Meet the STRS Channel Swimmers making a difference for Evelina London

25 May 2021

Twelve clinical staff from Evelina London are swapping their scrubs for swimsuits to brave the icy English Channel and fundraise for the South Thames Retrieval Service (STRS) and The Children’s Air Ambulance (TCAA).

Who are the South Thames Retrieval Service?

The South Thames Retrieval Service (STRS) is a lifeline for so many families in their most stressful moments.

For a critically ill child, every moment counts. The STRS team knows this, and make sure children get the care they need as soon as possible. When a child is too ill to be treated at their local hospital, the STRS brings the specialist care and support of a Paediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) to them.

“STRS and The Children’s Air Ambulance transfer children to the right place for the care that they need as fast as possible while providing intensive care every step of the way. There is no doubt that they are vital, so I’m looking forward to seeing how the money raised will help to improve the service for the patients and their families.”
Hannah, PICU Sister and STRS retrieval nurse

This team of intensive care clinicians specialise in resuscitating, stabilising and transferring critically ill children from hospitals across the South East to Paediatric Intensive Care Units (PICUs) in London.

Nurse in a STRS ambulance (photo taken before coronavirus)
Nurse in a STRS ambulance (photo taken before coronavirus)

Here to help

For the South Thames Retrieval Service, no two days are the same. Every time they get a call, they are thrown into the unknown.

Helping families and doctors through the darkest moments of a child’s illness is at the heart of STRS’ mission.

The STRS team travel far and wide to make sure that the most critically ill children get the treatment they need, even if that isn’t at their local hospital.

Taking the plunge

Thanks to their hard work, the STRS have saved countless lives. But they want to do more.

That’s why 12 doctors and nurses are coming together for a one-of-a-kind fundraising adventure. This June and September, they will brave the open waters of the English Channel in two relay swim teams.

“People have said I am crazy for doing this challenge but they’re very supportive!” says Laura, STRS retrieval nurse.

“I have always loved swimming but have never tried open water swimming before. So when the opportunity came for a new challenge I was really keen to get involved,” adds Emily, a PICU nurse. “The fact that I’m helping to raise money for two fantastic causes is a bonus, though I would prefer warmer water with fewer jellyfish!”

Crossing the English Channel is not for the faint hearted. Over the course of their 21-mile swim, the team will face an endurance test like no other.

But this band of swimmers are not put off by the big waves and jellyfish lurking in the waters to come. The team know that their money could be truly transformative for the STRS. Every pound they raise will go back into helping to ensure that they can continue saving lives of critically ill children.

“I’m petrified of swimming the Channel, but am constantly encouraged and motivated by the support of others. So please consider donating – even if just to see a bunch of doctors and nurses make fools of themselves,” jokes STRS retrieval nurse Harriet.

“My friends and family have been really supportive and encouraging. The whole team just wishes we could get the word out there more about the challenge and raise as much money as we can.”
Paula, PICU Sister and STRS nurse.

Help the team meet their fundraising target

You can help the STRS continue their life-saving work for the children who need them. Donate to their Channel Swim fundraising challenge.