SUPERFIT swimmer Stephen Sutcliffe will complete a fund-raising challenge in memory of a former schoolmate.
The 40-year-old, of Lower Crow Nest Drive, Lightcliffe, has signed up to do all five British Gas Great British Swims this year to raise money for the Meningitis Trust.
He chose the charity after the disease claimed the life of his school friend Beverley Kate Lever - known as Kate - 30 years ago this year, on November 13 1982.
The pair went to Bailiff Bridge School together - and were both keen swimmers - but Kate tragically died aged 12 just after starting at Brighouse Girls’ Grammar School.
Mr Sutcliffe, finance director at NHS Oldham, said: “Kate was a popular girl at school. Lots of people have fond memories of her. She was probably the first girl I had a crush on too.
“It was a shock. It’s a shock anyway losing someone close to you and meningitis wasn’t particularly well known as well back then. It was just totally out of the blue. She was a healthy girl . “Last year I did the Salford Quays swim for The Christie and I have raised money for the Meningitis Trust before. But this year I wanted to go all out to try and raise as much money as possible for a very good cause.”
The five, televised, British Gas Great British Swims are: one mile on the Thames on May 26, two miles on Alton Water on June 16, two miles on Lake Windermere on June 22, one mile at Salford Quays on July 1 and two miles on Strathclyde Water on August 25.
Kate’s sister Janette, 43, said she was touched Kate’s friends are fund-raising in her memory 30 years on.
“They were very close friends. It was such a shock for everybody - that someone so young can go to school one day and 24 hours later had died. “As a family, we always try to raise money for Meningitis Trust because they do a lot of support for bereaved families.
It’s wonderful when people do things in memory of someone in your family who obviously had an impact on them. It’s lovely.
“I’ll be supporting him all the way.”
To donate for Steve’s charity challenge, visit his JustGiving page at: http://www.justgiving.com/Stephen-Sutcliffe1