A 61-year-old is swimming 61km of the Thames, to raise money for her son’s girlfriend’s medical surgery.

“A year ago, I was unfit and unhappy. I had never swum more than a few lengths of my local pool. I am now half-way through a 61 km swim of the Thames in stages,” said Louise Hamblin.

“The idea came to me during lockdown, I was determined to reduce my risk of coronavirus and wanted to help a young woman who needs surgery for a life-threatening illness,” the Teddington local added.

Her son’s girlfriend, Beth Goodier, suffers from a rare neurological illness called Kleine-Levin Syndrome (KLS).

Known as Sleeping Beauty Syndrome, she is often bed-bound, sleeping for long periods of time that cause massive deterioration and damage to her body.

The NHS does not cover KLS, so a fundraising page has been set up to raise the £80,000 needed for Beth’s surgery.

“She is a talented artist and musician, but her life has ground to a halt because she has a rare genetic condition. She urgently needs life-saving surgery, which unfortunately is not available on the NHS,” said Dr Hamblin.

So, on July 21 Dr Hamblin started swimming from Teddington Lock, and tracking her distances on exercise app Strava.

She has already swum 34km and hopes to finish the full distance by September, ending up in either Redding or Henley.

“I am now half-way through my swim and have had some adventures on the way. I feel so much happier and have overcome so many physical and mental barriers,” Mrs Hamblin added.

“I have already raised £2500 but any donation would be so helpful, so we can get Beth out of her wheelchair,” said Dr Hamblin.

You can donate to #BackBeth here.