Helen Wass-O'Donnell is taking on her first ever open water swim following a complex diagnosis of Brainstem Encephalitis, Paraneoplastic Syndrome, disc fusion and Multiple Sclerosis.

Swimming as part of the Swanfield Swimmers team, Helen is aiming to complete half a mile in the waters of Windermere at the Great North Swim on Friday 8 June, all in aid of raising money for the MS Therapy centre in Edinburgh. 

Helen explains, “The MS Therapy Centre provides unique support and a variety of therapies for those living with MS and other neurological conditions, and their families.

 “It has been a huge support to me since being diagnosed. The staff and volunteers are an amazing bunch and I know that the centre is an absolute life-line to many, many people. Without it, their lives, and mine, would be so much harder. We value this service immensely.”

The centre offers service users a range of life-enhancing therapies, from oxygen treatment, to physiotherapy and a range of holistic services like aromatherapy, acupuncture and adapted Pilates and yoga classes.

Helen, who is also partially sighted, was diagnosed with MS in 2003 and found out she had brainstem encephalitis in 2015.  Her condition means she has a problem with balance but have discovered that through swimming she can still take part in sport.

“Swimming helps my mobility, I've adapted my goggles so I'm not dizzy or nauseous in the water and it is improving my physical abilities - my energy and muscle tone has definitely improved.

“Any kind of exercise is also good for your mental health.”

 Helen is being supported by her physiotherapist, Gillian, who after swimming the two-mile course will come back to swim with Helen and support her through her challenge. She has already raised an incredible £1,520 contributing to an overall team fundraising total of £5,360 to date. 

 To support the Swanfield Swimmers visit Helen's JustGiving page justgiving.com/helen-wass-odonnell