Seven-year-old Joseph Purcell swims to help refugeesBy Sally Bryant
August 14, 2012
A seven-year-old schoolboy is swimming the width of the English Channel to raise money for Syrian refugee children.
Joseph Purcell decided to make a splash for Syria after seeing the impact of the conflict on the war-torn country’s youngsters.
Joseph will be swimming the 21 miles in the pool at Royal Berkshire Health and Racquets Club in Nine Mile Ride, Bracknell, as he is too young to grease up and plunge into the real thing.
He said: “Dad and I were watching CBBC when Newsround came on.
“They showed some children with their faces blurred out and I asked my dad what was wrong with them.
“He said that they were refugees that had run away from the war in Syria and their faces had to be hidden so that they wouldn’t be hurt.
“We started looking on the internet to see what else we could find out about Syrian refugees and we found out that there were lots of them crossing over into Turkey to escape.
“I decided that I wanted to try to raise money to help them.”
Joseph’s father Greg contacted charity Hand in Hand for Syria to see how they could help to fundraise for Syrian refugees in Turkey.
And once the Holme Grange pupil completes his epic front crawl, he will visit the refugee camp to find out how the money he has raised will be spent.
He added: “I will be swimming 21 miles in the pool because I am too young to actually swim across the Channel. I can’t wait to see the Syrian children when we go to see them in Turkey. I want to bring them some things too.”
Greg said: “He is planning to finish the swim on October 30. He has to do 21 miles in total and he is averaging 30 laps a day – he has to do more than 1,800 laps.”
The pint-sized swimmer was celebrating at the weekend as he has clocked up more than four miles and his dad said he is setting himself goals.
The keen sports fan, will also swim stretches in America later this month, while his Seattle family are visiting relatives, and in Iceland on the way home.
Kind-hearted Joseph, of Farley Hill, is no newcomer to fundraising, having climbed Mount Snowdon last year to raise money for the Zanzibar Action Project.
Hand in Hand for Syria (HIHS) provides medical and humanitarian aid to civilians affected by the crisis in Syria.
Treasurer Fadi Aldairi said: “It’s wonderful to see children from the UK fundraising for children from Syria who have suffered so much in this crisis. It’s particularly inspiring because Joseph is so young and this is a long way to swim.”
To sponsor Joseph and follow his progress go to www.josephswims.com.