Rugby NHS consultant set to swim the English Channel in fundraiser for life-saving Children's Air Ambulance

Dr Claire Westrope only started open water swimming three years ago

Friday, 4th June 2021, 12:51 pm
Updated Friday, 4th June 2021, 12:52 pm
Dr Claire Westrope.

A dedicated NHS consultant from Rugby is set to complete a gruelling feat when she swims the English Channel in aid of the Children’s Air Ambulance (TCAA).

Dr. Claire Westrope (48) – a Consultant PICU and ECMO Intensivist and Lead Consultant, at Leicester Children’s Hospital – will take on an epic swim as one of seven swimmers who make up the Doctor and the Medic Dolphins Team.

The team will gather on the Dover shores next week, and will be called upon at some point between 10-14 June, joining a further two teams, in the charity challenge to navigate the 22.5-mile stretch as a relay.

Claire in the children's air ammbulance.

The Children’s Air Ambulance is a national service that is changing the face of paediatric and neonatal care through the high-speed transfer of critically ill babies and children – flying them from one hospital to another for specialist care.

Two clinically designed helicopters, based at Oxford and Doncaster, provide flying intensive care units and work with 10 NHS paediatric retrieval teams across the UK.

If a child is too sick to fly, then the Children’s Air Ambulance can fly a specialist team directly to them.

The partnership between specialist NHS teams, like Leicester’s world-renowned ECMO service, and the Children’s Air Ambulance charity continues to provide world-class care to the sickest patients at the Heart Link ECMO Centre in Leicester.

Dr Westrope said: “As a consultant in Paediatric Intensive Care, I have worked with TCAA for several years.

"I was involved in the interior and stretcher design for the AgustaWestland 169 and use this amazing service to transport poorly children long distances, to and from our intensive care unit.

“More recently we have worked together to develop an addition to the stretcher that will allow us to move critically ill children on ECMO (Extra Corporeal Life Support), a form of temporary heart and lung bypass - which gives the sickest children all over the UK the ability be placed on ECMO and/or moved to specialist ECMO units in a safe and timely manner."

Dr Westrope started open water swimming just three years ago, and despite working tirelessly on the frontline throughout the pandemic, with the added lockdowns affecting her training schedule, she has passed her assessment swim and is looking forward to the challenge ahead for a cause she truly believes in – and needs the public’s support to help spur her on.

She said: “Open water swimming is one of my favourite things to do now and living in Warwickshire, so far from the sea, this Children’s Air Ambulance event seemed like an amazing opportunity to broaden my swim horizons, get over my fear of jellyfish and do something truly exciting for a wonderful cause."

She will become part of a worldwide “family” of people who have conquered the famed stretch of water, home to the world’s busiest shipping lanes, but more than that she will help to keep families together through supporting the critical work of the national Children’s Air Ambulance.

On behalf of TCAA Special Events team, Hannah Jack said: “We’re delighted to have Claire on our Dr and The Medic Dolphins Team to take on the Channel Swim relay challenge.

“Claire’s work in developing our new ECMO functionality has advanced our Children’s Air Ambulance service tremendously, and she’s been able to see first-hand how our helicopter transfers really do save lives.

“We’d like to thank Claire for all of her efforts with training and fundraising so far, all whilst working hard in Paediatric Intensive Care. She’s a great addition to our team and we’re looking forward to reaching France with her next week!”

To support Claire, and the Doctor and the Medic Dolphins Team on their challenge, please visit: www.justgiving.com/campaign/channelswimrelay2021Anyone wishing to learn more can call 0300 3045 999 or visit www.childrensairambulance.org.uk