How great-aunt Susan inspired me to challenge myself and help others

Jonathan Turnock is taking part in the Swimathon challenge for the third time, spurred on by memories of his late great-aunt, who was his source of support and inspiration. 

Happy together: Jonathan with his great-aunt Susan

Jonathan has just turned 21. But things haven’t always been easy for him. Growing up, he was extremely shy and introverted.                                           

Jonathan says: “I kept to myself mainly, and I didn’t have loads of friends at school.

“It was only through swimming that I actually pushed myself to go out and do things.”

A nice surprise

Swimming has given Jonathan more self-confidence to do and achieve more. So far, he has taken part in five Swimathon events to raise money for Marie Curie.

Last year, Jonathan pushed himself by swimming 5km at Swimathon and smashing his fundraising target.

Jonathan recalls: “I was just seeing what life was going to bring me. I was over the moon when I raised over £2,000. I remember thinking: Crikey!

“I like how life can come back around and surprise you, with all the good things coming along unexpectedly.

“It was a big day for me, as I was also swimming for my great-aunt Susan, who was living with cancer.”

Someone to rely on

Jonathan was very close to his great-aunt Susan. She was someone he could always count on for support.

Jonathan says: “I’ve suffered with depression in the past, and my great-aunt helped me through the good and bad times.

“Susan had always put others first – she was a really cheerful lady and a good listener. Even though I didn’t see her a lot, she was always there for me.”

Jonathan's great-aunt Susan gave him support and inspiration.

A fitting tribute

Susan died last June after living with cancer for more than 10 years.

Her courage and strength have given Jonathan the motivation and determination to always challenge and improve himself.

Jonathan says: “My great-aunt just kept going and going, pushing forward. She was such an inspiration to me.”

This April, Jonathan will be swimming at Swimathon for the third time for the two charities that are close to his heart: Marie Curie and Cancer Research UK.     

A personal achievement

Above all, Jonathan is also doing the Swimathon challenge for himself.  

Jonathan says: “I’ve changed a lot since I was younger. It’s amazing how you can change yourself, from being withdrawn to becoming a chatty, more confident person.

“Now I like challenging and pushing myself, and doing good things.

“Swimming has definitely given me a boost. I appreciate getting the recognition from my swimming and fundraising challenges.

“I love doing these swims knowing that the money I’ve raised can help others.”


If you’re inspired by Jonathan’s story, you can help him to raise more money by sponsoring his challenge.  

It’s also still not too late to sign up for Swimathon. Register now to swim 400m, 1.5k, 2.5k or 5k at a participating pool near you!