Romford swimmer calls for volunteers to take plunge for hospice

Saint Francis Hospice

Tina Briden outside the hospice with her son Alfie - Credit: Saint Francis Hospice

A former Team GB swimmer is calling on people to make a splash for Saint Francis Hospice by taking part in an open water event.

Tina Briden, 61, from Romford, has organised the swimming challenge for people to choose to swim distances of 400m, 800m or 1,600m around the Trifarm lake in Chelmsford on May 15 to raise funds for the hospice.

She said: “It is so good to challenge yourself and push yourself out of your comfort zone.

“The tingle you get when you get out of the water and you complete it is amazing.

Tina with her parents,  Maisie and Stanley Burke

Tina with her parents, Maisie and Stanley Burke - Credit: Saint Francis Hospice

"There are so many benefits to being fit and I think it is important for all of us to try and stay as fit as we possibly can. Swimming is one of the best exercises you can do – it is gentle and it works every single muscle in your body."

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Tina came up with the idea of the challenge after she started swimming at the Trifarm during the first lockdown when pools were shut.

“Swimming has been such an important part of my life since my dad took me swimming when I was four and I discovered I had a talent,” said Tina.

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“I was very fortunate to swim for Team GB and competitively until I was around 20.”

Tina went on to become a PE teacher, with both her son and daughter inheriting a love of the water.

The event is being held in memory of Tina’s parents Maisie and Stanley Burke, and she is hoping local people will sign up and help to raise money for the hospice that cared for her mum in 2018.

“When the 'hospice at home' nurses arrived to care for mum, it was like an angel had descended,” said Tina.

Maisie and Stanley Burke

Maisie and partner Stanley Burke - Credit: Saint Francis Hospice

“They were so calm, they offered us respite in our home so we could rest.

“I remember my mum ran out of medication at one point and it was harrowing to see her in pain but the nurses managed to sort everything out.

“Their presence made us feel secure and the comfort that we were doing the right thing to look after her properly."

Places are limited and Tina is hoping swimmers will pledge to raise £100 for the hospice.

To sign up for the challenge or for more information, email Tina at

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