Swimming in memory of Morecambe dad

The team with their medals after the swim. Picture by Clive Hutchby.
The team with their medals after the swim. Picture by Clive Hutchby.
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A team of 71 swimmers braved the chilly waters of Lake Windermere to swim in this year’s Great North Swim in a poignant tribute to popular a Morecambe businessman.

The team raised more than £20,000 for research into the disease that killed dad-of-three David Benjamin, almost exactly a year ago to the day of the event.

David, who was 53-years-old, died of skin cancer the day after watching his two younger sons Alex, 21 and Oliver, 18, take part in last year’s Great North Swim to raise money for Rosemere Cancer Foundation.

This year, Alex and Oliver were joined by elder brother James, 25, mum Deborah, David’s business partner Andrew Kneale and a host of family and friends in the water to swim at least a half mile in celebration of David’s life.

With Alex and Oliver’s 2015 swim raising just over £6,000, the group had set itself a £10,000 fundraising target but smashed it through donations pouring into its Just Giving page.

Cathy Skidmore, Rosemere’s corporate fundraising manager, said: “The team has raised more than double the target it set itself, which is quite unprecedented and goes to show the esteem with which David is held within his community.

“We are extremely grateful but we are also very humbled by Deborah, David’s sons and those closest to David who showed such tremendous courage in taking this feat on at a time when emotions must have been particularly raw.”

Although he lived in Ambleside with his family, David was Morecambe-born.

As managing director of Matthews Benjamin and Fine & Country Lakes and North Lancs, he worked throughout the area at the company’s offices in Lancaster, Kendal, Windermere and Ambleside.

The company gave money to sponsor each swimmer’s place in the team. In addition, since March, the company has given £100 to Rosemere Cancer Foundation for every house sale it has completed.

This money helps Rosemere fund a three-year melanoma (skin cancer) diagnosis and research and other projects.

The money raised by Team Benjamin will go directly to a research project being led by Dr Ruth Board at Rosemere Cancer Centre in Preston, which is where David was treated. Rosemere Cancer Foundation spends donations on equipment that cannot be funded by the NHS.