Pete Chirnside

Pete Chirnside served as Church Partnership Manager at the Scottish Bible Society until December 2014. Pete reflects below on a recent sponsored swim undertaken to raise funds for the Scottish Bible Society and Tearfund.

I didn’t intend to do a sponsored swim – it just happened! As part of my 65th birthday celebrations, I was given an entry to the Great Scottish Swim. I was willing to take up this challenge and knew that I had 8 months to prepare for a 1 mile swim in Loch Lomond.

My swimming experience before was limited to nice warm indoor swimming pools – swimming in open water is quite different! To get prepared, I entered the June event at Lake Windermere to swim 1/2 mile in open (cold!) water. I was regularly swimming a mile at a local swimming pool, but I struggled to complete the 1/2 mile event in the very cold water of Lake Windermere. Thankfully I did finish eventually! More preparation was needed for August.

Until this point I hadn’t really thought about fundraising, but after a number of folks asked me, I realised it was a good idea. I found it straightforward to set-up an online page on JustGiving and post updates on my training. I also took to social media to share information about the event, and then waited to see what would happen. Many of my friends on Facebook posted encouraging comments and very kindly gave money. It was an encouragement to keep going – though I realised I couldn’t drop out now! I posted further updates and more sponsorship money kept coming in.

People that I hadn’t seen in years gave to the cause, friends and family were generous too. One friend, who had searched online for the Scottish Bible Society website, came across a bedraggled picture of me following the Lake Windermere event and, as a result, contributed to the cause. Other friends shared news of my swim and information went far and wide – a donation even arrived from the USA – amazing!

Not all my updates were online. I shared information about the event at church, prepared a sponsor sheet and, again, I was thankful for the generosity shown.

On 29th August, in 43 minutes and 52 seconds, I completed my one mile swim in Loch Lomond. I came third in my age group (65-69) and 504th overall (out of around 2,000 swimmers). Due to the generous giving, the Scottish Bible Society will receive over £850 – this money will support work around the world and help to provide Bibles in places such as Cuba, Rwanda, Cambodia and Ethiopia – all places that I have visited and places well deserving of this support.

And next time I’ll be aiming to beat 40 minutes!

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