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Swim Lake Wanaka for Darryl Fairbairn Memorial Fund

$10,250 of $10,000 goal

Given by 152 generous donors in around 3 months

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Attempting to swim the length of Lake Wanaka to raise money to provide counselling and support for children and their families.

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Many of you will remember that in 2007 and again in 2017 some of my friends and I got together and swam the length of Lake Wanaka (Makarora to Wanaka Township), 45 km, in a relay. Then earlier this year (March 2018) I attempted the whole swim solo. Unfortunately I succumbed to hypothermia just 8 km from the finish. So I am going to have one more go and see if I can crack it this time.

The money we raised has gone towards providing children and their families, in the Upper Clutha area, with counselling support when they are going through tough times following grief and loss. I have been completely blown away by the support of the community (not just local, but national and international). However, on the flip side, living in "paradise" in this part of the world does not protect and shelter us from the struggles of life. I have seen an increase just in the past year, of people accessing the fund. Hopefully this reflects people's awareness of the fund and not an increase in need.

Due to the large number of people accessing this fund, I realise that it is going to need a regular top-up if it is going to continue being able to help people. I was really happy last time that I achieved my goal which was to raise awareness and funds for the charity. However this time my goal is to make it the whole way.

You may ask "What has swimming down the lake got to do with providing money for people to receive counselling?" My answer is A HUGE AMOUNT. These people are facing very challenging times already, and the added financial stress could be the hurdle for them between getting help, or not. I see swimming down the lake as a huge personal challenge, not unlike the struggles we all face at times. So, despite me being a "swimmer", don't think this is going to be easy for me.

As a result of my own past traumas, and subsequent mental health issues, I want to raise the profile of overall mental health/wellness. If we can help children and their families, earlier on in their struggles, then hopefully they can build resilience and have better mental health.

I hope you will join me and follow my journey through this challenge, and reach deep into your pockets and donate, so we can help members of the community

About us

The Darryl Fairbairn Memorial Fund was set up after we raised over $10 000 by swimming the length of Lake Wanaka. The money is used to provide funds for counselling for children and their families when they are going through grief and trauma in their lives. This is for those in the Upper Clutha area.

Use of funds

The money goes directly to counsellors who provide the support to children and their families, following grief and loss in their lives.

Latest update

Made It!  20 January 2019

Well, as you all will know...I made it. Swam down the lake from Makarora River to the Log Cabin on the Wanaka waterfront in 16 hours and 10 mins. I don't know where some of that time all melded into one.

Firstly I want to thank all of you who have donated. While I was swimming, I got into a dark place in my head and what got me out of it was when my support crew told me that over $4000 had been donated, and I had only been swimming for 10 hours. You guys didn't even know I would make it. I was blown away!

I am slowly recovering at home, with my main effects being exhaustion and tendinitis in my right wrist.

I have had a lot of time to reflect on the challenge of the swim (the preparation and the actual event), and how this directly relates to the challenges people face in life. And most importantly how we can make these challenges just a little bit easier. We can't take away challenges in life...they will always come up...but we can ease this burden on people.

For me, when we lost Darryl, it was a relief to know that I could get counselling for Finn, fully subsidised. We lived in Christchurch and it was provided by the District Health Board. Because he was only 7, he got 6 sessions of play therapy, and although what he said etc. was completely confidential, it was reassuring to know that he was getting some help. With losing one income there was no way I could have afforded it.

So moving to Wanaka, which is seen as a very affluent society, there was none of this available for those who found themselves in the same situation. Grief and loss does not discriminate! And not everybody in Wanaka has the money to pay for extra things like this that may pop up. The fund specifically pays for subsidised counselling for children and/or their families when they are enduring times of grief and loss. This is far ranging and examples are that it could be as a result of: a death; major injury or illness (to the child or parent); relationship breakdown of the parents; some other parental challenge that affects the child.

All counsellors in the Upper Clutha Area are aware of the fund and know how to access it on behalf of their clients or if people want to know more they can call into Community Networks and talk to somebody about it.

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Latest donations

  • Kay Hart

    Kay Hart on 10 Feb 2019



  • Kim from Christchurch

    Kim from Christchurch on 26 Jan 2019


    Thank you for championing such an important are an inspiration


  • Rachel, Mark, Hugo and Olive

    Rachel, Mark, Hugo and Olive on 25 Jan 2019


    Fiona, we really appreciated your time this evening - the kids were really inspired by your journey and your commitment. What you are doing for the community is fantastic, having gone through a process of grief ourselves. Congratulations on an amazing feat. We are in awe. And we'll never swim in Lake Wanaka again without thinking about currents!!


  • Tracey Signal

    Tracey Signal on 25 Jan 2019


    Amazing! Well done Fi


  • Bron S

    Bron S on 23 Jan 2019


    With love


Who's involved?

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This page was created on 19 Dec 2018 and closed on 20 Mar 2019.
$10,250 of $10,000 goal

Given by 152 generous donors in around 3 months

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