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Usain Bolt backs new swimming charity

By Alan Smith

Two friends from the Weald have founded a charity to help teach children in Jamaica to swim - and it's won the support of Olympic champion Usain Bolt.

Charlotte Holt, 24, from Goudhurst, recently worked as a nanny for Guardian journalist Decca Aitkenhead, looking after her two children, Jake and Joe.

The Aitkenhead family earlier suffered a terrible tragedy when the boys’ father drowned while rescuing Jake, then aged four, from a rip-tide off Treasure Beach on the Caribbean Island.

The fund-raisers at Tonbridge Leisure Centre: Picture courtesy of Emma Hall Photography
The fund-raisers at Tonbridge Leisure Centre: Picture courtesy of Emma Hall Photography

Miss Holt said: “When I journeyed to Treasure Beach with the family after the accident, I was shocked to discover that hardly any of the local children could swim, as they had no access to a pool or swimming lessons.”

With her friend Stacey Symes, 25, from Sissinghurst, and with help from her father, former city businessman Keith Holt, she has founded Likkle Swimmers, which has just been granted charity status.

The aim is to save lives through providing a free learn-to-swim programme at Treasure Beach for children aged three to nine.

The charity has already received £3,500 raised by 32 sponsored volunteers, aged from five to 84, who between them swam more than 15 miles at Tonbridge Leisure Centre.

It has also been given the backing of Jamaican Olympic champion Usain Bolt.

Miss Holt explained: “Decca recently interviewed Usain for her column in the Guardian and told him about Likkle Swimmers.

“He immediately pledged his support for the project."

Usain Bolt sent his good wishes
Usain Bolt sent his good wishes

“We are aiming to teach up to 150 Treasure Beach children to swim by the end of August 2017, hopefully reducing the tragic number of local lives lost to the sea.

“The long-term goal of Likkle Swimmers is to raise enough funds to provide the community with a permanent public swimming pool.”

Further fund-raising events are planned, including a charity golf day at Dale Hill Golf Course in Wadhurst on Thursday, April 6.

For more details visit www.likkleswimmers.com

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