Whether you're 60 or 16, every now and then we all need a push in the right direction. This summer Sheila Collins will have her sister to thank when she stands in the centre of Manchester in a wetsuit, before diving into Salford Quays.

Sheila is turning 60 this July and will be joined by her supportive 58-year-old sister, Helen Taylor, as they celebrate one of her most memorable ever gifts at the Great Manchester Swim.

Sheila said: “When Helen suggested the Great Manchester Swim (three days after my 60th birthday) I was just a little apprehensive and my first reaction was – 'madness!'

"Then I thought, what better way to mark my birthday than by having fun with my family whilst raising money for a good cause."

Shelia’s sister, Helen, has already completed the Great North Run and participated in numerous 10k races and half marathons over the years, including the Great London Swim.

In contrast, Sheila, who is a retired secondary teacher, has never participated in such an event.

Sheila said: “From being fairly fit I have now become the 'big' sister in more ways than one. I have been very involved in secondary school teaching and teacher training and have found little time for regular physical activity.

"This, despite loving sport (my beloved Manchester United will recover) and teaching outdoor education for a number of years.”

Sheila will take the plunge with thousands of other swimmers with the aim of fundraising, celebrating and becoming fitter. She has chosen to raise money for Charnwood Nursery, a charity which supports able body and disabled children and their families, of which she is a trustee.

“I am hoping to raise money to replace a smart board, which would be fully accessible by all children and act as a creative tool to aid the excellent early years education for which the nursery is well known.”

The sisters, who were both born in Manchester, are not following a particular training programme yet but Sheila plans to seek advice from an ex-colleague who is a swimming coach.

"We are both excited at the prospect of swimming in the open water and I hope that this will be the first of many other events. My greatest inspiration is without doubt my little sister who made the suggestion to swim and get fit, and gave me the courage to register in the first place!"


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