Charity Forth swim celebrates life of bomb victim

Team Shebeen in the Forth, preparing to celebrate life of Jeni Ayri. PICTURE: TOBY WILLIAM
Team Shebeen in the Forth, preparing to celebrate life of Jeni Ayri. PICTURE: TOBY WILLIAM
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A TEAM of swimmers is set to take the plunge into the Firth of Forth to raise funds in memory of a city woman killed by a suicide bomber.

Seven members of Team Shebeen are to brave the chilly waters to swim from North Queensferry to South Queensferry in memory of Jeni Ayris, who was killed in Afghanistan a year ago.

All money raised by the freezing feat will go towards Scottish veterans charity Erskine.

Those taking part include Ian Hudson, proprietor of South African-themed bar Shebeen in Leith, Michael Cano Stuart, Daros Gray, Hendrik Geldenhuys, Naomi Hare, Jayce Simpson and Corne van Jaarsveld.

Ms Ayris, 47, who was brought up in Cape Town, was well known and highly regarded amongst the city’s South African community. She and 11 fellow aviation workers were killed when a female suicide bomber struck their minibus near Kabul Airport.

The attack came as Ms Ayris was preparing to leave the war-torn country to return home to Edinburgh.

Her sister Pat and several friends are expected to attended the September 29 event to cheer on the seven plucky swimmers.

Event organiser Wendy McBride said: “Jeni was a friend to many of the Edinburgh South African community and is sorely missed.

“Everyone was anxious to do something to mark a year of her passing and this way we can raise some money for a great cause, too.

“Hopefully it will be good conditions on the day. Jeni was very well thought of by her friends and still is.”

Ms Ayris, who was a popular figure in Tollcross where she once ran South African cafe and deli Ndebele, was, after her death, described as the “hub” of the community.

Hundreds of people posted tributes, memories and photographs on a Facebook page dedicated to her memory.

A spokeswoman for Erskine said: “We are delighted that Team Shebeen have chosen to support Erskine.

“Their brave swim will be raising much-needed cash for our veterans and everyone at Erskine sends their hearty thanks and wishes them the very best of luck.”

The team will be wearing specially designed apparel on the day from Shebeen Bar & Braai Restaurant, while the wetsuits needed for the swim are being loaned by Boardwise on Lady Lawson Street.

Donations can be made on the Team Shebeen Just Giving page: www.justgiving.com/teamshebeen.