Tell Your Swimathon Story: Dawn Barratt


Dawn is taking on the brand new Triple 5k challenge this year to help raise vital funds for Cancer Research UK and Marie Curie. On top of that, she's attempting to swim the three 5ks all in 1 day! Both of these charities are very close to her heart after tragically losing two of her family members a few years ago.

What motivated you to take part in Swimathon 2019?

I have taken part in every Swimathon and I’ve always wanted to raise money for Cancer Research UK and Marie Curie. You just never know when you or your family will need them, and it’s very important to me to raise as much money as I can.


What Challenge are you undertaking for Swimathon 2019?

This year I am doing the New Triple 5K Challenge on Friday 29 March 2019. I am doing this challenge in a day at my local pool, The Sovereign Centre in Eastbourne, East Sussex. I am going to do my first 5K at 6.30am, my second 5K at 10.30am, and my third 5K at 2.30pm!


Are you fundraising for Marie Curie and Cancer Research UK?

Yes I am. I wanted to do the Triple 5k in one day to raise as much money as possible for Cancer Research UK and Marie Curie. I would like to get as much publicity as I can, as I can’t imagine many people will be doing the Triple 5k in just one day. I am going to put collection buckets in various places where I am known, so that I can raise as much money for Marie Curie and Cancer Research UK as possible.


If so, do you have a story to tell about your fundraising experience that you wouldn't mind sharing with us to inspire others to raise money?  

In December 2012, my sister’s 16-year-old son, Jack, was diagnosed with leukaemia. He was in the Royal Marsden Hospital for over six months and was constantly undergoing treatment.

In June 2015, my sister aged 51, died unexpectedly. Myself and all the family were absolutely devastated. She was there for Jack every time he had to go to the Royal Marsden and was a massive support to him. A few months after she died, Jack’s treatment for leukaemia stopped and he was in remission. This was such fantastic news but my sister never got to know he was in remission, and this made Jack really angry because he knew his mum would be so pleased for him.

In July 2017, two months before his 21st birthday, following a normal check-up at the Royal Marsden, he was told that the leukaemia had returned. Again, he was admitted to the Royal Marsden where he underwent more tests and chemotherapy. Following lots of tests and donor testing, Jack started to receive stem cell treatment in January 2018. Jack initially responded brilliantly to the stem cells, and the doctors and staff were really pleased with him. Jack and his partner, Holly, had decided that once Jack was better they would buy a new home together.

Jack was admitted to hospital on 2 July 2018, as he was getting different infections and generally felt very poorly. He was monitored closely and given various medication, but nothing seemed to work. Three weeks later, Jack suddenly went blind. The consultants didn’t know what had caused this and Jack was devastated. His condition got worse and he was unable to walk, see or do anything. Again, the consultants couldn’t understand why this was happening as all his tests were coming back fine. Test results showed that the stem cells had worked and there was no leukaemia; Jack had been right.

On Friday 14 September 2018, Jack sadly died, aged 22, with his partner Holly by his side the whole time. It was absolutely heart breaking. No one could believe that after all the pain and suffering he went through that this would happen to him. He was so brave and never complained about anything, even when he went blind. He really was a hero.

My sister and now her youngest son have both died and I felt (and still do) totally useless. The whole family were distraught and all I wanted to do was make it better for them all, but unfortunately I couldn’t. I just want to bring them both back. I know I can’t do that nor can I make anything better for everyone, but I can swim, and I can use this to raise money for Cancer Research UK and Marie Curie.

If you would like to sponsor Dawn, please visit:



Marie Curie




Swimathon Foundation


Swim England


Scottish Swimming


Swim Wales


Just Giving