What a year. Coming out of the pandemic, with our full complement of volunteers this year, it was challenging but very successful, as they all supported the programmes and our partnering organisations worldwide.
We got off to a flying start, with all our programmes running in 2022. We started with Peru, where we were initially uncertain of going ahead, being so close to coming out of the pandemic, but the team did us proud and managed to run ten weeks of swimming lessons in January, February and March. We invited our partner, Photographers Without Borders, to attend the programme and they took some fantastic photos for us.
The Brazil programme was not without problems. Our partner, ETIV-do-Brasil, has a severe issue with the exchange rates as the Brazilian Real dropped dramatically due to the pandemic striking them in the early part of 2022, with the threat of the programme not starting. We were enormously grateful to the Princess Charlene Foundation, which stepped in to provide the shortfall, and we were able to go ahead.
In another successful project in Mozambique, which also experienced a problem, the primary swimming instructor who was due to go out to teach the teachers, dropped out about a month before the programme was due to start. Thanks to a campaign to reach out to swimming instructors, we had several people willing to step up and take on the challenge of running the Mozambique project with our partner, Love The Oceans. After a successful interview, SwimTayka trustee Rob Hamilton flew out to spend four weeks at our project in Mozambique to teach the Love the Oceans swim teachers. Volunteering alongside Rob was Mya Clark, who was there for two weeks teaching the children to swim. Mya and Rob thoroughly enjoyed their experience and would recommend it to anyone considering volunteering. They hope to return in the future.
Our most successful project was Bali with our partner SwimDo, with ten volunteers attending during August. This was our first year working with SwimDo, and it was a great success, with all the children loving the new depth of teachers from SwimTayka.
Our newest partner, Likkle Swimmers, based in Jamaica, had an exciting project too, with volunteers going out to Treasure Beach and helping the local instructors to teach swimming. A beautiful location, with many children needing help with swimming and drowning prevention.
This year’s fundraising events saw four teams successfully crossing the English Channel and two solo swimmers complete the epic journey, raising over £43,000 for SwimTayka. Thank you to all of them. We also had several swimmers taking part in the London Marathon River Thames swim, and they raised £17,000. All in all, a very successful year for fundraising, and we are looking forward to many more events in 2023.
We held our first annual gala dinner, which was a great way to celebrate our achievements and to look at future plans. We’ll be holding our second this November.
Finally, I’d also like to welcome into this world Henry, Lauren’s baby who was born in the summer. Congratulations to Lauren, and we are looking forward to her returning to work in April.
SwimTayka is now in a healthy state to grow and support more programmes going forwards, and 2024 will see new programmes coming on board, which we are excited about.