Cheers and tears in Skegness as Claire conquers Wash for little girl with cancer

Claire arrives at Gibraltar Point after her 14-mile swim to raise money for a little girl with a rare form of cancer. Photo: Barry Robinson.
Claire arrives at Gibraltar Point after her 14-mile swim to raise money for a little girl with a rare form of cancer. Photo: Barry Robinson.

There were cheers and tears at Gibraltar Point last night when a Skegness woman conquered the Wash to raise funds for a brave little girl with a rare form of cancer..

A physically and mentally exhausted Claire Draper was helped along in the final few yards of her 14-mile swim by the family of four-year-old Jocelyn Leaver, who held a banner with the words 'Claire Swam the Wash' and screaming out 'Come on Claire'.

An emotional arrival for Claire at Gibraltar Point. Photo: Barry Robinson

An emotional arrival for Claire at Gibraltar Point. Photo: Barry Robinson

Her arrival was always going to be emotional and as she stood up in the water welcomed by the cheers of the crowd, she melted into the arms of her "beyond proud " husband, Johnny - it was their wedding anniversary, bubbly was on ice and it was "not one they would forget", he had told the Standard earlier, promising to take her on holiday next year.

But it was the welcome of Joss's mum, Cassie, as she wrapped her arms around Claire, that said it all. Jossie - who is fighting high risk neuroblastoma; a rare childhood cancer - faces many months of intensive treatment and is currently in Great Ormond Street Hospital in London receiving immunotherapy..

Earlier Cassie said: "We are so very proud of Claire. The support is amazing - not just today but over the last eight months. It's incredible what this girl has done for our family. I want to say a huge thank you to the team."

On the run-up to the swim, Claire's Swimming the Wash for Joss Justgiving Page had smashed its original target of £5,000 and was well over £8,000 as Claire arrived at Gibraltar Point - becoming the second woman to swim across the Wash in more than 40 years.

Claire with husband Johnny (left) and the Mayor of Skegness, Coun Sid Dennis. Photo: Barry Robinson.

Claire with husband Johnny (left) and the Mayor of Skegness, Coun Sid Dennis. Photo: Barry Robinson.

"Really? That's just amazing, That means altogether we've raised more than £13,000." she said, smiling through tears of joy. "It's nice to be on dry land. The last hour was really tough. I was quite emotional approaching the beach but now I'm really excited."

The Fantasy Island boss set off on her nine-hour swim from Hunstanton Old Beach on Monday morning and at one point was running 25 minuted ahead of schedule, until crossing the Parlour Channel proved more challenging than expected as the current was working against her.

She praised her support team of Lee St Quinton and Mark Smith - fellow members of Skegness Tri Club who swam part of the distance with her to support her. "These guys really helped me through it," she said.

To support her fundraising efforts, visit the Claire's Swimming the Wash for Joss JustGiving page. Follow Claire on her Swim the Wash for Joss Facebook page.

Jossie's  family gather to welcome Claire.

Jossie's family gather to welcome Claire.

See this week's Skegness Standard for more pictures

Read more at: https://www.skegnessstandard.co.uk/news/support-claire-as-she-embarks-on-wash-swim-for-brave-josse-today-1-8591322

Crowds gather to welcome Claire. Photo: Barry Robinson.

Crowds gather to welcome Claire. Photo: Barry Robinson.

Claire finishing the first leg of her Wash swim after two hours - 25 minutes ahead of shedule. Mark Smith will now join her for the second leg.

Claire finishing the first leg of her Wash swim after two hours - 25 minutes ahead of shedule. Mark Smith will now join her for the second leg.

Claire starting her swim across the Wash from Hunstanton Old Beach.

Claire starting her swim across the Wash from Hunstanton Old Beach.