Brave Eskbank mum tackles fear of water in memory of her son who drowned in Amsterdam

A brave Edinburgh mum has overcome a fear of water to complete a loch swim in memory of her late son, a victim of drowning.

Thursday, 27th May 2021, 4:55 am

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Christopher Nelson, 24, died in 2015 after falling into a canal in Amsterdam while on holiday in the city with his fiancée.

Now his mother Donna - who previously could not swim and was left with a fear of water after her son's death - has completed a 27km swimming relay with friends and family at St Mary's Loch in the Borders.

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Emotional: Donna is thinking of Christopher as she completes her swim

It's the latest in a string of charity challenges including skydiving and bungee jumping.

Donna said: "This challenge was the worst one mentally and emotionally for me that I have ever done by far, considering I couldn't swim before and Christopher drowned in open water, but I crossed that finish line for my boy.

"Before I started my lessons, I hadn't been in a swimming pool since Christopher died.

"Even when I stood in the shower, I couldn't put my face under the water. There hasn't been a morning in the last six years where I've stood in the shower and not thought about what happened to my son."

The team who backed Donna

The team have so far raised over £40,000 for Edinburgh Children's Hospital Charity (ECHC), which supports the Royal Hospital for Children and Young People.

Donna 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 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.

A unique bond: Donna and Christopher

"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 - this one was no different.

"I can't thank everyone enough who has donated and supported us for this mammoth challenge for my boy."

Victoria Buchanan, deputy director of fundraising and marketing at ECHC, said: "Donna is hugely admirable, inspiring and brave and we would like to say an enormous congratulations to her and her friends and family for completing what we know was an incredibly tough challenge - physically and mentally.

"We are so grateful to be Christopher's family's chosen charity.

Donna overcame her fear to take on the swim

"The money team Nelson 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 them enough for their incredible continued support."

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