The MIND Pool to Open Water Swimming Programme aims at helping people who face anxiety and depression as physical activity and open water are said to be beneficial. Jane Hardy, Community Sport Officer at ACTIVE Northumberland, shared her thoughts in an open letter about her last sailing and diving experience with the programme’s participants on the Northumberland coast.

“What can I say? Yesterday evening couldn't have gone better. The winds dropped, the sea was flat calm - almost warm for the North Sea. There were no jellyfish and the sun came out.

I told William Shiel, owner and Captain of Billy Shiel Farne Islands Boats, about the group we were working with and he went the extra mile to make sure they had an experience of a lifetime.

He very kindly took the boat via Staple Island, so that we could look at all the birds (puffins, guillemot, razor bills, shags, cormorants...). He did this at the start of the trip when everyone was still warm and dry!

The seals were fantastic as always. We swam in a protected area in front of Longstone lighthouse.

The participants were amazing! They've come so far in their 8-week journey:

  • Week 1: They were nervous to go down the ladder into the pool & put their faces in the water.
  • Week 8: They were jumping off a boat into the North Sea 4 miles off the coast of Britain & swimming with Atlantic grey seals in their natural environment

They were all radiant as they exited the swim and rightly so. They've all knocked down barriers and raised self-esteem.

Then, the highlight of the trip! We were just about back in the harbour at Seahouses when William spotted dolphins in the distance.

So, instead of steering us back into the harbour, William took us along the coast to the bottle nosed dolphins. We have bottle nosed dolphins as visitors in May & June when the salmon are running - it was a HUGE treat.

Instead of getting us back for shortly after 7pm, we were still at sea at 9pm watching these majestic creatures riding in the bow waves and leaping giving us the most amazing display of wildlife.

William had been up early and out at sea with divers all day, so we can't thank him enough!”

Jane Hardy - Community Sport Officer at ACTIVE Northumberland

Tyneside and Northumberland Mind would also like to thank:

  • Active Northumberland and Alnwick Town Council as funders of this project
  • Active Northumberland, including some dedicated volunteers who facilitated the project
  • A special mention to Jane Hardy and Christine Smith for all their support and energy
  • Costa Alnwick for donating some cups for use on the boat
  • Lewis fish and chip shop where we all ended up after the event for some well-deserved sustenance

This wouldn’t have been possible without your support. A big thank you to All!


  • Sonia Turpin

    02 July 2018, 1.47pm

    Open water swimming is my therapy definitely I can’t wait till my next out door swim looking for new places all the time x thank you

  • Alexander MArtnto

    03 August 2018, 8.53am

    Awesome! This is so insightful! I never thought swimming as a way to counter depression. Thanks for sharing! Anyway, I also have writings related to depression, just feel free to visit my blog.

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