For more information about the Great North Swim, visit: Greatswim.org/North

A woman will take on an open water swim challenge with her 15-year-old niece after she tragically lost her father to sepsis.

Fiona Aucherterlonie, from South Shields, will honour her Dad Derek, who she lost in February when he took ill suddenly with the life threatening infection.

Derek, 74, complained of feeling unwell and was diagnosed with a gout flare up, with no signs of infection but he became worse. He was rushed into hospital days later and diagnosed with Sepsis, falling seriously ill.

Derek tragically passed away because of the disease, with Fiona and the rest of the family then discovering how prevalent it can be and the devastating impact.

Fiona, a clerk for Northumbria Police, is a regular at the Great North Swim and has inspired her niece Jess, a pupil at Whitburn Church of England Academy, to take on her very first ½ mile swim when the event returns to Windermere on the weekend of 9-11 June.

She will tackle the mile distance at the event in support of a charity that raises awareness and funds to tackle Sepsis.

Fiona, 35, said: “My Dad was my best friend and my knight in shining armour. He took ill suddenly with sepsis and although I had heard of it, I had no idea how preveland it was and how quickly it can strike.

“I also didn't realise how deadly it could be until this happened. We as a family have been left lost without him and we really want to make others aware of the signs.

“I have taken part in the Great North Swim for the last few years and so this time it felt completely right to tackle the challenge in honour of my Dad.

“Jess will be joining me and taking the plunge in her first ever open water swim so it will be a lovely tribute to him. “I know he was very proud of me for swimming so I know he would be so happy to see his eldest granddaughter taking part too,

“It was because of this that we decided to swim for UK Sepsis Trust to raise awareness about the condition in the hope that someone will be able to recognise the signs quickly.

“This is a silent killer that we really knew nothing about.”

Great Swim is Europe's biggest open water swimming series, and Fiona and Jess will join around 10,000 others as she takes to the waters of Windermere in the Lake District National Park this weekend.

The events range from a beginners 250m wave for anyone aged 8 and up to the grueling ‘marathon' 10k swim for open water experts.

Fiona added: “I was looking for a new challenge and I came across the Great North Swim. I signed up and roped my two friends in too.

“I am now a regular at the event and the encouragement from family and friends on the day helps me make it to the finish line and I've never looked back.

“It's the best hobby anyone can ask for. It's very fitting as well as my first year in 2013, my Dad was able to come and watch me swim so I know that whenever I take to the open water he is always with me.

“The words he would say to be were ‘I'll be with you every step of the way, I have every faith.””

For more information about the Great North Swim, visit: Greatswim.org/North