Team Nelson take the plunge

The brave mum of Christopher Nelson, who sadly drowned in 2015, undertook her biggest challenge yet by getting back in the water for the first time since her son’s tragic death.

Donna has had an immense fear of water since Christopher’s death, and had never learned to swim. Regardless, she set herself the task of swimming a 20km relay with friends and family in St Mary’s Loch, where her son’s ashes are scattered.

To prepare for her challenge, Donna attended adult swimming lessons with instructor Jen Henderson at Lasswade Centre.

She 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 he 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.”

Although each new challenge is harder than the last, Donna says she channels her son to give her the strength to complete it.

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.


Christopher was a mad sports person 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 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!”

Donna and her family and friends – also known as “Donna’s Prosecco Posse” or Team Nelson – have raised over £30,000 for ECHC since 2015 by completing a series of challenges including Tough Mudder and a 200-mile cycle.

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.