AN ARTIST is making a big splash to help revive the park she spent her childhood playing in.
Venice Gent, of Holywell Green, will swim the length of the English Channel to raise money for the Shaw Park Restoration Group.
She will complete the 22-mile challenge – more than 1,584 lengths of Elland Pool – over three days from August 24, swimming a gruelling six hours per day.
Venice, a freelance artist and designer who studies fine art at Leeds College of Art, said: “I love swimming but this will be total endurance. I’m doing hours and hours of training and everyone I tell about it seems amazed and thinks I’m mad.
“As I spent hours in the park pretending to be her, I am having a Wonderwoman swimming costume made up for the event.
“I’m hoping this will psychologically spur me on – dressed as a superhero I may gain some kind of super-strength!”
Venice has fond memories of the park, where she loved to play at being a princess in the castle folly.
Along with the rest of the restoration group, she is passionate about returning the crumbling beauty spot to its former glory.
She said: “There are so many moments of my own life and memories imprinted in that park.
“I remember my brother falling in the pond, the games of rounders there, tadpoling and hide and seek.
“We used to fill our water bottles up from the well on hot days, roll down the dip in summer and sledge down it in winter.
“We played on the swings while our mums jogged round the park in velour tracksuits to keep fit.
“Even as teenagers, we still spent time at the park, catching up on gossip and staying late to see bats flying out of the castle.”
The mum-of-one said she was dismayed to see how overgrown and run-down it had become in recent years, but delighted that people are uniting to improve it.
“I would love my son and all the other children of the village to grow up seeing the park as the centre of the universe just as we did,” she said.
To sponsor her, email email@example.com or visit www.swim4shawpark.wordpress.com