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Leicestershire farmer’s ‘trough’ charity challenge

A farmer from Melton Mowbray has completed her chilly challenge of dipping into seven ice-cold animal water throughs – seven days on the trot – in aid of the lifesaving local air ambulance.

With nothing but a swimming costume and hat to protect her from the cold, Justine Sore (48) began her unique challenge on 8 January and made her seventh and final dip as snow fell the following Thursday.

The trained solicitor’s efforts, at Hill Top Farm, where she now farms with partner Martin Brown, has raised over £2,800 for the Derbyshire, Leicestershire and Rutland Air Ambulance (DLRAA) – A charity Justine has the utmost respect for.

“I like riding horses and am always very conscious of having an accident,” she said. “The same actually goes for when I’m out in my car.

“The air ambulance does an astonishing job, they are out on the frontline 24/7 in the aircraft or critical care cars, in essence taking the hospital to the patient, enabling them to provide advanced treatment and critical care on scene.

“It’s an organisation which I hold close to my heart and, like many other charities, their income from donations has dwindled since the pandemic started, so I wanted to do something to help.”

As a fan of open water swimming, Justine regularly swims at the Race Hub Open Water Swimming lake, but as it’s closed due to the current lockdown, she figured she had to get her fix somewhere.

Wandering the grounds of the 60-acre farm, Justine noticed the seven troughs dotted around the farm that were all frozen over with ice, and it suddenly dawned on her to combine the idea of dipping into seven of the animal troughs over seven days, and raising funds for charity.

“Despite being a seasoned cold-water swimmer, it is a very different experience getting your kit off in a field in the middle of January and stepping into a freezing animal water trough, far away from any heat source,” said Justine.

“Day three was one of the toughest because I had to stand around for 20 or 30 minutes while my son Charles (12) – chief ice-breaker – smashed through the ice with a mallet, and on day five the wind was biting as I got in.”

Despite the difficulties of being immersed in freezing water for up to 10 minutes, Justine completed her challenge and raised hundreds for the lifesaving service.

“I am over the moon to have finished my challenge – and to be honest – I feel fantastic!

“I am chuffed with the generous support I’ve had from my sponsors. It was a challenge to take on over lockdown, and if anyone is thinking of setting themselves a challenge, just jump in at the deep end and go for it – it really helps both physically and mentally,” added Justine.

In awe of Justine’s efforts, DLRAA Community Fundraising Executive, Vicky Evans said:

“We are so amazed by Justine’s incredible frozen challenge to raise vital funds for our charity. We think she is incredibly brave for completing such a unique and difficult challenge, and we are very thankful to her for choosing to support us.

“Justine has raised over £2,800 to help keep our vital, lifesaving service running. Each of our missions cost £1,700 and last year we attended more incidents in Leicestershire than any other county – we receive no government funding, so support such as Justine’s really does keep our crew on the frontline saving lives.”

A little addicted to her new cold-water immersion routine, Justine will continue her daily dips until Sunday 31 January, in the hope to raise £3,000!

There’s still time to donate to Justine for her epic efforts, please visit her JustGiving page here