A RETIRED Cheshire police officer has braved the cold waters of Bala Lake in North Wales to raise £465 for St Luke’s Hospice.

Gareth Jones, who retired 15 years ago, said: “I have always been passionate about swimming and so I thought I would set myself a challenge to swim the four mile length of Bala Lake.

"I decided to change my personal challenge to a fundraising one after speaking to Mark Gammage, an events fundraiser at St Luke’s Hospice and learning about the marvellous work the hospice does.”

Gareth started training in early summer last year.

He said: “After months of training and a few cancelled opportunities due to bad weather, I did the swim on August 13 followed closely behind by my friend Andy in a RIB boat.

"It went smoothly until I reached the halfway point when the wind suddenly picked up causing the water to become choppy. The conditions became so bad I almost abandoned the swim altogether. Fortunately I had a snorkel with me which I used to push through the rest of my swim!”

Gareth completed his open water challenge in 3 hours and 15 minutes and raised £465 for St Luke’s, thanks to the generosity of friends, family and supporters.

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Mark Gammage, events fundraiser at St Luke’s, said: “As a fellow retired Cheshire police officer I’m really proud of Gareth for completing his swim and raising money for such a good cause.

"St Luke’s is run mostly on donations so fundraising challenges like Gareth’s make a real difference and help our nurses care for local people.”

Gareth is now planning his next swimming challenge and has begun training to swim Windermere and eventually the gruelling 30 mile swim of Loch Awe in Scotland.