Essex fundraiser to swim around 500-acre island for Alzheimer’s Research UK

Essex man Pete Searles is zipping up his wetsuit to swim four-and-a-half miles around an island to boost funds for Alzheimer’s Research UK.

Posted on 3rd July 2014

Essex man Pete Searles is zipping up his wetsuit to swim four-and-a-half miles around an island on Sunday 13 July to boost funds for Alzheimer’s Research UK. The 30 year old, from Shenfield, near Brentwood, will attempt to circumnavigate Brownsea Island – the largest of eight islands in Poole Harbour, located off the Dorset coast. Pete is swimming in memory of his grandmother Stella Wells. The 84 year old, from Corringham, Essex, died in 2007 after an eight-year battle with Alzheimer’s disease.

The 500-acre island of pinewood, heathland and sandy beaches is owned by the National Trust and measures one-and-a-half miles long and three-quarters of a mile wide. A record 300 swimmers will be ferried over to Brownsea Island to take part in the swim, organised by rescue charity RLSS Poole Lifeguard. In putting his fitness to the test, Pete, who works in media, hopes to raise at least £500 towards pioneering dementia research.

Pete explained his reasons for signing up in support of the UK’s leading dementia research charity:

“As a family we used to go to Sandbanks near Poole every year. It’s such a beautiful part of the world and when I heard about the swim I just had to give it a go. The longest distance I’ve done is 10km, but that was in a swimming pool. The farthest I’ve done in open water is two miles. It’s quite a big step up but I’m confident I can go the distance.

“My nan had a brilliant mind. She was highly intelligent and was always quoting from books. She was also a brilliant artist and she loved doing floral arrangements for her local church. I can’t remember exactly when her memory started to go as I was only young, but she started forgetting simple things that had just happened and repeating herself more and more. My grandfather looked after her as best he could but eventually he just couldn’t cope and she spent the last three or four years of her life in a care home. Towards the end it took her longer and longer to recognise people, but she was always laughing, which was extremely comforting for the family.”

Pete added:

“The scale of the Alzheimer’s problem is growing and it’s my generation that must act now if we’re going to defeat this horrid disease. It terrifies me that one day I may not be able to recognise my family, and that’s why I’m supporting Alzheimer’s Research UK. It’s something very close to my heart.”

Jodie Vaughan, Community Fundraising Manager at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said:

“We can’t thank Pete enough for taking on the Brownsea Island swim in support of our pioneering research, and we wish him the best of luck on the day. Every £20 he raises is enough to fund another hour of research, bringing much-needed new treatments ever closer.

“Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia, which affects hundreds of thousands of people across the UK, including over 19,000 people in Essex. Research is vital if we are to find treatments capable of stopping the disease in its tracks, but we rely on our wonderful supporters, like Pete, to be able to fund our pioneering work.”

To help Pete raise money for Alzheimer’s Research UK’s pioneering dementia research, donate online at For more information about Alzheimer’s Research UK or to find out more about fundraising for the charity, call 0300 111 5555 or visit

Posted in Fundraising news