Making a splash for charity

Ron's Squad during their Million Days Water Challenge
Ron's Squad during their Million Days Water Challenge
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Fitness mad youngsters from Blackpool have won high praise after taking the plunge to help children in Africa.

The group of 80 from Ron’s Squad, who train every week for biathle – the combined swimming and running discipline – took part in a swim/run event to raise money for the internatioal Million Day Water Challenge.

A well in Malawi

A well in Malawi

It aims to give people in Africa access to life-saving clean water.

And the group’s efforts have been highlighted in international charity Buy One Give One’s annual report.

Ron’s Squad was set up by Luke Helmn in memory of his dad, Blackpool sports coach Ron Helmn, who in the last 10 years of his life encouraged, coached and introduced children from five upwards to
 athletics, despite a long battle with cancer.

Luke said the goal was to collect enough to pay for a million days of water in Malawi, but the youngsters managed to smash that target raising 1,013,516 days access to water, astounding the organisers from Buy One Give One.

Youngsters took part in two swim and run events, one at Fleetwood Baths and one at The De Vere Hotel in Blackpool.

Luke, who has been teaching swimming for almost 20 years, said: “They said we had made the biggest impact in that month worldwide.

“In 2012, our first year in business, we took children from being non-swimmers to Team GB and as highly ranked as second in the world at a combined run/swim/run event.

“All the kids worked hard and achieved amazing success, as a result we won 2012 Gazette Allstars Team of the Year aged 5-11 years.”

“The Amateur Swimming Association says 51 per cent of children leave junior school and can not even swim 25 
metres (and that’s around 1.1 million children) ... so the idea of the 1 million days water challenge was for children to take part in a swim and a little fun run with all the entry fees going to dig water wells in Malawi.”

Paul Dunn, international chairman for Buy One Give One, said: “Oh my goodness! You have taken my breath away with this enormous gift.

“Just know that we (and thousands of others) are inspired and Ron would be SO proud.”

Ron’s Squad meets at Poulton every Saturday night and Luke is set to launch another group at St Annes in the near future.