Soldier's mum swims to Afghan to support her son
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Alison Harold is pictured at Selkirk Swimming Pool with her daughter Bethan, aged nine, and local swimmer Caillie Johnston who donated her time to the cause. Also pictured below is a map of her route from the Borders to Afghanistan.
THE mother of a soldier from Selkirk is swimming from the Borders to Afghanistan - to stop her worrying about her son being sent to war.
However, she is completing the marathon without leaving her local pool.
Alison Harold dreamt up the idea to help her sleep after her eighteen-year-old son Gregor joined the army.
She enlisted the support of family and friends and, together with the families of other soldiers she met through an online support group, have so far raised almost £9,000 for four military charities - Support Our Soldiers, Help For Heroes, Veteran's Aid, and ABF - the Soldier's Charity.
The 47-year-old chartered accountant revealed her family alone have swam more than 17,600 of the 228,800 lengths needed at her local 25 metre long pool since the challenge began in January, including her nine-year-old daughter Bethan who has completed more than 800 lengths.
And now, having gone through three swim suits, seven pairs of goggles and having lost nearly two stone in weight, she pointed out they are less than 4000 lengths away from completing the fundraiser.
Speaking to the Border Telegraph this week, Alison, who revealed she is already planning to complete the return route through a sponsored triathlon, said: "It's been fantastic.
"We were expecting Gregor to be deploying to Afghanistan now so wanted something to distract us and keep us too tired to worry, as well as show our support and raise money for a number of good causes.
"He knows how much I worry, I was in pieces when he did go to join. He was only 17 and it was quite a scary thing for him to do."
But she added: "I am incredibly proud of him and it's been a fantastic community event and the support we have received from all the swimmers has been incredible - I can't thank them enough."
The Selkirk mum explained she had expected her son to join 1SCOTS, based at Dreghorn Barracks in Edinburgh, on completion of his training when she launched the Swim to Afghanistan.
The infantry battalion of the Royal Regiment of Scotland are due to deploy to the war zone this month.
But she revealed the former Selkirk High School pupil was instead posted to 5SCOTS, based in Canterbury, and is currently on duty at the Olympics in London.
Nevertheless, the fundraising has continued. And a pool party is planned next month to thank everyone for their support.
Alison said: "The project began on an army family Facebook group in November 2011.
"We set off in January needing to complete 228,800 lengths of a 25 metre pool and we set ourselves the target of a year to complete. We roped in a couple of swim teams, friends, husbands, kids - and total strangers - on our journey.
"Of the 224,000 swum to date, 87,000 have been swum in the Borders - mainly at the swimming pool in Selkirk but also at pools in Galashiels, Peebles and Hawick. And we are now just 4000 lengths away from finishing.
"Although it was my idea, loads of people, including the Selkirk swim team, have put in lots and lots of effort and I couldn't have done it without them." And she added: "We are hoping to have a fund-raising concert in Selkirk at the end which will be a chance for us to celebrate our achievement and relax!"
To show your support for Alison's fundraiser, log on to the following website - www.justgiving.com/teams/jsfsgfundraising
This article appeared in Border Telegraph 09 Sep 12
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