Entries for all distances at the Great East Swim are now open. Enter at: Greatswim.org/East

A Suffolk-born man will take on a major swimming challenge this Summer to raise money for Bloodwise, the UK's specialist blood cancer charity, in memory of his Mum.

Andy Reilly will be swimming for his Mum, Dorothy, who died from leukaemia ten years ago and in recognition of his brother, Chris, who was diagnosed with a rare form of lymphoma three years ago and is now in remission.

Andy, who now lives in London but is originally from the Ipswich area, will undertake a major physical challenge as he has signed up for the 5k swim at the Great East Swim in Alton Water on Saturday 17 June.

Andy's Mum, who lived on a houseboat in Woodbridge, died shortly after a six month battle with acute myeloid leukaemia in 2007.

His brother, Chris, was diagnosed with double hit grey cell lymphoma, a very rare form of the disease, in March 2014 and was given a 20% chance of survival.

Chris spent months in hospital battling the disease and its side effects. He was fortunate enough to find a strong non-genetic stem cell match and underwent a stem cell transplant in November 2015.

He has been in remission for the past two years and has recently moved from Solihull near Birmingham with his wife and three children onto a houseboat near Woodbridge. Andy believes that, had his mum been diagnosed in 2017, she would have had a very different outcome thanks to major advances in scientific and medical research and development.

Andy is swimming to raise money for research into blood cancer in memory of his mum and to help people with blood cancers get a second chance at life, like his brother.

Andy, 39, said: “I am doing the Great East Swim because blood cancer has had a massive impact on my family and I want to do everything I can to support research into finding a cure.

“I don't usually do big charity events, but I wanted to celebrate my mum, who passed away ten years ago this year. She was always so full of life and extremely active and I thought I should challenge myself.

“Mum loved the East of England, she was a keen sailor and loved living in Woodbridge.

“As a kid, she encouraged me to earn my distance badges swimming open water in the River Deben at Felixstowe Ferry, so it felt really fitting to return to Suffolk to take part in the Great East Swim.

“Given we had already lost Mum to leukaemia, it was a huge shock when Chris was diagnosed with Lymphoma three years ago.

“He was given something like a 20% chance of living but he managed to pull through thanks to the amazing treatment he was given. It made me think how lucky we had been and I think that if Mum had been diagnosed now, her outcome would have been very different.

“Thanks to major medical advances, Chris was given a stem cell transplant which helped him beat the disease. Both of these experiences made me think that it was time I did something to support a charity that is helping make a positive outcome a reality for other people.”

Andy will be one of 2,000 people who take on the 5k distance at the Great East Swim open water event in June. The inclusive event is perfect for beginners looking to try an open water swim for the first time or for more advanced swimmers who are searching for the ultimate challenge.

There is a range of distances on offer throughout the day to suit everyone, starting from half a mile up to a marathon 10k swim.

Andy will be supported by family and friends who are travelling from London and Herefordshire to watch him on the day.

He added: “I hope that I, along with hundreds of other fundraisers, will be able to help more people get the outcome my brother has had.

“It will be a very special occasion for me because I will be returning to a place I love and swimming alongside so many people for a range of good causes.

“My brother will be there supporting me too and I know that that will really motivate me when it gets tough.”

To support Andy at the Great East Swim, visit his fundraising page.

Entries for all distances at the Great East Swim are now open. Enter at: Greatswim.org/East