A former Team GB Olympic and England swimmer will officially start Wessex Cancer Trust’s Swim for Hope today (Saturday, September 4).

Forty swimmers are taking part in the 1.3-mile cross Solent swim, between Hurst Point in Hampshire and Colwell Bay on the Isle of Wight and Ricky Burrell will see them off in style.

The event is among those marking Wessex Cancer Trust’s 40th birthday.

Mike Sizer-Green, manager of the Trust’s Newport-based Isle of Wight Cancer Wellbeing Centre is taking part.

Mike was diagnosed with a brain tumour in 2013 and used Wessex Cancer Trust’s Daisy Bus to get to his appointments at Southampton General Hospital.

Many of those taking part in the swim have their own personal experience of cancer, he said: "Swimming the Solent is a huge challenge in itself but it’s important to remember that this represents way more than a sponsored swim.

"That stretch of water, to me and so many others who have traversed it day after day for cancer treatment, represents a major hurdle.

"It’s a daily challenge – a nightmare sometimes. It's often the reason why some may elect not to undergo treatment."

The Isle of Wight Canoe Club, Freshwater Independent Lifeboat, Needles Pleasure Cruises, Associated British Ports and independent kayakers are also supporting the event.

Joining Mike in the challenge is volunteer and fundraiser Michelle Salsbury.

Michelle, who suffered a spinal fluid leak in 2019 and has since recovered, said: "I learnt from a young age how cancer can affect a family.

"When I was 12, my Nan was diagnosed with lung cancer and came to live with us.

"Five years later my stepdad was diagnosed with cancer and had to travel to Southampton for treatment.

"Since then, other friends and family have been diagnosed. Some have survived and, sadly, some haven’t.

"I’ve tried to do what I can to help raise money for Wessex Cancer Trust – from running and singing to directing cars at the Drive-In cinema."

Visit wessexcancer.org.uk.