Grieving Midlothian mum who cannot swim to tackle fear of water in memory of tragic son Christopher Nelson

Donna, who is currently learning to swim by attending adult swimming lessons with instructor Jen Henderson atLasswadeCentreDonna, who is currently learning to swim by attending adult swimming lessons with instructor Jen Henderson atLasswadeCentre
Donna, who is currently learning to swim by attending adult swimming lessons with instructor Jen Henderson atLasswadeCentre | other
Christopher, 24, tragically drowned after falling into a canal in Amsterdam while on holiday in the city with his fiancé.

A brave Midlothian mother whose son sadly passed away while on a trip to Amsterdam with his fiancé is set to tackle her fear of water in his memory.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad
Read More
Teenage boy taken to hospital with serious facial injuries after assault in East...
Christopher Nelson, 24, tragically drowned after falling into a canal in 2015 while on holiday in Amsterdam.Christopher Nelson, 24, tragically drowned after falling into a canal in 2015 while on holiday in Amsterdam.
Christopher Nelson, 24, tragically drowned after falling into a canal in 2015 while on holiday in Amsterdam. | other

Now, his mother Donna, 49 – who cannot swim and who has had an immense fear of water since his death – is set to swim a 20km relay with friends and family in St Mary’s Loch, where her son’s ashes are scattered.

Donna, who is currently learning to swim by attending adult swimming lessons with instructor Jen Henderson at Lasswade Centre, said: “I’ve not been in a swimming pool since Christopher died. Even when I stand in the shower, I can’t put my face under the water. There hasn’t been a morning in the last four years where I’ve stood in the shower and not thought about what happened to my son.

“It has taken me weeks to put my face under the water at my swimming lessons. I didn’t understand how quiet it was under there – it makes me think, ‘was it quiet for Christopher?’ I hope this challenge will help me find peace somehow.”

Donna is fundraising for Edinburgh Children’s Hospital Charity (ECHC), which supports the Royal Hospital for Sick Children – a charity close to the family’s heart.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

She added: “Christopher was a mad sportsperson as a little boy, so we were on first name terms with the A&E staff at the ‘Sick Kids’ as he had so many sports-related injuries.

“He was very athletic and used to really inspire me to do things I would never do. He encouraged me to do the Couch to 5K and used to send me music to run to. He was my inspiration for most things in life. He would never believe that I would take swimming lessons, and especially not that I would swim in open water.”

The grieving mum and her family and friends – also known as ''Donna’s Prosecco Posse' or #teamnelson – have so far raised over £30,000 for ECHC by completing a series of fundraising challenges since 2015, including Tough Mudder and a 200-mile cycle.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

She said: “When I complete my challenges, I’m always sobbing my eyes out but also have such a sense of relief. Afterwards, I always look up to the sky and say ‘love you son’ and have a moment with him.

“I couldn’t think of a bigger challenge than this one but I’m doing it for Christopher, so that his legacy and his name will live on forever. By hook or by crook – I will cross the finish line.”

Rachel Baxter, Director of Fundraising and Marketing at ECHC, said: “We are enormously grateful to be Christopher’s family’s chosen charity. Donna is hugely admirable and inspiring and we wish her the very best of luck with this new challenge.

“The money they are raising will have a huge impact on the lives of children, young people and their families and make a phenomenal difference during their time in hospital. We cannot thank the family enough for their incredible continued support.”

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Donna and Christopher’s family and friends will be swimming the 20km on Saturday 16th May in St Mary’s Loch, supported by Steven Nelson (no relation) Founder and Manager/Activities Coordinator of Beyond Boundaries East Lothian and volunteers, who have very kindly agreed to be the Water Safety Crew.

To support Donna and those taking part in the challenge, donations can be made at: https://teamechc.everydayhero.com/uk/donna-s-open-water-swim-challenge