South Shields pool pals brave cold to make splash for charity

Swim team Bethany Ball, Michael Ruff and Shannon and Hannah Costello with supporter Sharon Emmerson.
Swim team Bethany Ball, Michael Ruff and Shannon and Hannah Costello with supporter Sharon Emmerson.

A team of big-hearted pals kept their cool for a vital cause – braving ice-cold waters to make a grand gesture for charity.

Fundraisers Bethany Ball, 23, Michael Ruff, 48, and sisters Shannon and Hannah Costello, aged 20 and 17, pooled together to take part in the team relay event of the Big Chill Swim at Windermere, in Cumbria, in aid of the Multiple Sclerosis Society – with no wetsuits allowed.

It was a fantastic day

Bethany Ball

The caring quartet, who all work as lifeguards at Haven Point Leisure Centre, South Shields, finished an impressive third out of eight teams in cold and wind-swept conditions and collected a bumper cash total of £1,166 for the charity.

They were inspired to make a splash for the MS Society by Sharon Emmerson, who has become a familar and friendly face at the pool since being diagnosed with MS last March.

Miss Emmerson was among the supporters who made the trip to the Lake District to cheer the swimmers on.

The charity champions were delighted with their finishing place in the relay – which saw each swimmer complete a lap of the marina in Windermere.

Miss Ball said: “It was a fantastic day. We were not treating it as a competition.”

With no wetsuits allowed, the lifeguards sported MS Society T-shirts, supplied by the South Shields branch of the charity.

They admit they were caught cold by the chilly temperatures – but have vowed to dip their toes in the water again next year.

Miss Ball added: “The water was so cold, it was six degrees and was very windy on the day.

“We had our MS Society T-shirts on and Sharon was there to support us. We will definitely do it again next year.

She added: “We would like to say a massive thank you to a few companies and businesses for their support, South Shields Multiple Sclerosis Society, Hatton Dance Academy, The Dog Walker company, The Drift Divers Club and Plexus Training and Education.”

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a neurological condition which affects about 100,000 people in the UK, with roughly three times as many women as men diagnosed.

Most people are diagnosed between the ages of 20 to 40, but it can affect younger and older people too.

There is currently no cure for the complex condition, which has a range of symptoms from spasms and fatigue to balance and vision problems.

For more information on MS, visit