DRIVEN by her passion to help save young lives, a dedicated NHS consultant from Rugby will attempt one of the most gruelling feats of human endeavour when she swims the English Channel in aid of the Children’s Air Ambulance (TCAA).
Dr Claire Westrope, 48, will take on the epic swim as one of seven swimmers who make up the Doctor and the Medic Dolphins Team.
Joining a further two teams, Claire’s team will navigate the 22.5-mile stretch as a relay, to raise funds for the life-saving charity.
Claire, who works at Leicester Children’s Hospital, said: “As a consultant in Paediatric Intensive Care, I have worked with TCAA for several years. I was involved in the interior and stretcher design for the AgustaWestland 169 helicopter, and use this amazing service to transport poorly children long distances to and from our intensive care unit.
“More recently we have worked together to develop an addition to the stretcher that will allow us to move critically ill children on Extra Corporeal Life Support (ECLS) – a form of temporary heart and lung bypass – which gives the sickest children all over the UK the ability be placed on ECLS or moved to specialist units in a safe and timely manner.”
Claire will become part of an exclusive club of people who have conquered the famed stretch of water, home to the world’s busiest shipping lanes.
Starting her open water swimming training just three years ago – and despite working tirelessly on the frontline throughout the pandemic, with lockdowns affecting her training schedule – Claire has passed her assessment swim.
She says she is looking forward to the challenge ahead for a cause she truly believes in, and needs the public’s support to help spur her on.
She said: “Open water swimming is one of my favourite things to do.
“Living in Warwickshire, so far from the sea, this Children’s Air Ambulance event seemed like an amazing opportunity to broaden my swim horizons, get over my fear of jellyfish and do something truly exciting for a wonderful cause.”
Hannah Jack from the TCAA Special Events team said: “We’re delighted to have Claire on our Doctor and The Medic Dolphins Team to take on the Channel Swim relay challenge.
“Claire’s work in developing our new ECMO functionality has advanced our Children’s Air Ambulance service tremendously, and she’s been able to see first-hand how our helicopter transfers really do save lives.
“We’d like to thank Claire for all of her efforts with training and fundraising so far, all whilst working hard in Paediatric Intensive Care. She’s a great addition to our team and we’re looking forward to reaching France with her!”
The Children’s Air Ambulance is a national service which flies critically ill babies and children from one hospital to another for specialist care.
Two specially-equipped helicopters, based at Oxford and Doncaster, provide flying intensive care units and work with 10 NHS paediatric retrieval teams across the UK. If a child is too sick to fly, then the Children’s Air Ambulance can fly a specialist team directly to them.
Claire and her team will embark on their challenge between June 10-14. Visit www.justgiving.com/campaign/channelswimrelay2021 to sponsor them.
Visit www.childrensairambulance.org.uk or call 0300 3045 999 for more information on the charity.