Dads endure extreme weather for island challenge

PUBLISHED: 17:00 10 January 2012 | UPDATED: 15:24 11 January 2012

Oli Dixey (left) and Rob Sheppard on their return to Pill.

Oli Dixey (left) and Rob Sheppard on their return to Pill.

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A PAIR of dads from Pill spent a gruelling week battling the elements on an island in the Bristol Channel to raise money for the village swimming pool.

Oli Dixey and Rob Sheppard survived five nights on Denny Island during a week of gale force winds, heavy rain and hailstones, with only an upturned dinghy and tarpaulin sheets for shelter.

They returned to Pill on Friday, welcomed ashore by family and friends.

The pair planned the challenge to help raise money toward the running of the swimming pool at Crockerne Primary School, which is threatened with closure.

Both Oli, aged 34 of Westward Drive, and Rob, aged 31 of Underbanks, have children who attend the school and hope to have raised more than £2,000 from their challenge.

The proceeds will be split evenly between the school pool and Children’s Hospice South West, which runs Charlton Farm in Wraxall.

Oli, who works as a Pill Hobbler mooring ships at Avonmouth and Portbury docks, said: “I have sailed around the Brisol Channel for years and seen Denny Island but never been on it.

“It is a challenge and will definitely have been worth it, even if we only raised £500.

“I learnt to swim in the pool and both my children did. That is one of the reasons we thought it was a good idea.”

During their week on Denny Island, which spans about 0.6 of an acre and lies about three miles north of Portishead, Oli and Rob were supported from home by their wives Michelle Dixey and Zara Sheppard.

Michelle, aged 38, said: “The bad weather had a real impact as people had a good understanding of what the conditions must be like for them.”

Oli added: “Getting home was really nice, as are the creature comforts. Being able to sit down and turn on the telly, rather than lying in a sleeping bag all day, is great.”

The pool at Crockerne Primary School in Westward Drive is used for swimming lessons during and after school hours. Aqua aerobics sessions are also held there.

However, the high running costs mean it is threatened with closure.

A statement from the school’s chairman of governors said: “The school is doing everything possible to keep the swimming pool open even though finances are against us.”

* Anyone still wishing to donate can do so by visiting www.justgiving.com/Robert-Sheppard0


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