Nine-year-old is making waves ... by swimming the channel

TAKING THE PLUNGE: Inspirational Annie is pictured with little sister Millie.
TAKING THE PLUNGE: Inspirational Annie is pictured with little sister Millie.

A CARING youngster is taking the plunge to raise cash for the charity that supported her family in their time of need ... by swimming the English Channel.

Annie O’Donnell, from Lennoxtown, will attempt to swim the 22 miles over a nine-week period – aiming to complete a remarkable 1,416 lengths of a 25-metre pool.

Inspiration for the challenge came from her little sister Millie (7), who was born with Tracheo-Oesophageal Fistula (TOF).

TOF is a rare congenital condition which means the affected person is unable to swallow.

Dad Murray said: “She’s a member of the Virgin Active health centre and saw a banner promoting setting yourself the personal challenge of swimming the channel.

“She’s a pretty good swimmer and has loved the water since she was a baby. She just wanted to do something for Millie and we’re very proud of her.

“When Millie was born we didn’t know anything was wrong with her at first, but then the midwife noticed she was wasn’t as sprightly as she should be.

“She took Millie away and didn’t come back. It turned out she had TOF and had to be taken straight into paediatric intensive care in Stirling then was transferred to Yorkhill Hospital later that day.”

Millie stayed in Yorkhill for three and a half months before she was allowed home and had to contend with a number of gruelling operations to rectify the problem.

It was during this period – and the following years when she required further operations and care to deal with related problems – that the charity TOFS came to Murray, and wife Kirsteen’s, aid.

Murray said: “They helped us so much – explaining the condition and putting us in touch with local families who had first-hand experience of it.

“We’d never even heard of TOF so it was a scary time. Having somebody at the end of a phone to talk to any time we wanted was a great comfort.”

Annie’s challenge is currently underway – with the dedicated youngster even swimming wile she was on holiday in Pitlochry last week.

To keep up to date with her progress, and to leave a message of support or a donation, just go to www.justgiving.com/Murray-O-Donnell1

For more information about TOFS, go to www.tofs.org.uk

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