Monday, 27 June 2016 07:58

Gangsta Grannies get into the swim of things

Two local ladies, who dub themselves the Gangsta Grannies, are undertaking a mammoth challenge in August to swim the English Channel to France and back to help BCHA support local vulnerable women and children.

Taking their nickname from David Walliams’ best-selling children’s book, 58 year old Ali Budynkiewicz and 48 year old Lisa North, two grandmothers from Dorset, will be swimming in relay, taking it in turns with two hour shifts, from Dover to France and back again between August 26th – 31st, swimming on the best tide and conditions decided by their pilot Paul Foreman on his boat Optimist. This endurance challenge has never been done by two women before, let alone two grannies.

The ‘Grannies’ are fundraising for BCHA, who are a local housing and social care support provider, helping homeless, vulnerable and other people access the right housing, health, learning and work opportunities. All money raised will be going to its Women's Refuge in Bournemouth to help provide activities, days out, sporting and art materials for the children of women affected by domestic violence.

Lisa North, who lives in Poole said, “The Gangsta Grannies want to provide a lovely family day out for these vulnerable women and children so they can forget all their troubles even if it's just for one day. This is something that these families cannot normally be able to do so we want to make their day a happy and fun filled one just like many of us take for granted.”

The duo have been training hard for three years for this challenge and have personally covered all the costs for the swim themselves, which includes three pilots, three observers, hire of the boat and payment to the Channel Swimming and Piloting Federation, to ensure that every penny raised will go directly to the refuge. Ali Budynkiewicz, who is from Bournemouth, adds, “Our aim is to in someway enable children to experience fun with their family, and raise their self esteem and confidence for the future. The work that BCHA does is truly wonderful, and together we are committed to ensuring positive outcomes for children who have lived through or witnessed violence in their home, which should be a safe and nurturing place for them.”

Within only a few weeks of setting up their JustGiving fundraising page, the Gangsta Grannies have already hit 82 % of their original £1,000 target, just through donations from family and friends, so are now on a mission to keep smashing targets before the end of August. It is anticipated that Lisa and Ali will be in the water about 30 hours in total, swimming in two hour shifts, with the "rest" period spent recovering from the drop in core temperature and refuelling up to swim again. They will also have three helpers on the boat to dress and feed them, as well as to help them get warm again between swims.

“We are training very hard, although the sea isn't very warm yet,” comments Lisa, “but at least there are no jelly fish at the moment!”

If you would like to donate to the Gangsta Grannies Double Channel Swim 2016, please visit