Northumberland woman to complete 7 month charity challenge after suffering childbirth complications

A woman from Northumberland who has braved the elements to raise awareness of traumatic births is about to complete a 7 month charity challenge. 

Gillian Castle, from Alnwick, has a stoma bag after childbirth complications.

Three times a week, she's taken an icy plunge in the sea wearing just a bikini, goggles and swimming cap to highlight the stigma of wearing a bag. Not even poor weather and a global pandemic could stop Gillian from completing her challenge.

She had to be inventive to find new ways to continue - filling a bath tub with freezing cold water to take an ice bath in her back garden.

Her next door neighbour's dog Buddy was less than impressed.

Gill was left needing a stoma bag after suffering a traumatic birth with her son Sam back in 2011. She was diagnosed with PTSD and post-natal depression.

She was unable to return to work as a police officer and set herself a challenge to prove that a colostomy does not need to be a barrier.

One of the coping mechanisms she found helped her overcome her anxiety and depression was open water swimming.

It inspired her to take to the water to raise funds for the charity which supported her.


The amount raised so far by Gill for the Birth Trauma Association

So Far Gill has raised more than six thousand pounds for the Birth Trauma Association. 

Gill has used social media to share her fundraising journey with her followings.

She has regularly posted videos and photos of her bitterly cold dips, but one benefit of getting up early and going to the coast, is enjoying some of the beautiful sunrises the North East has to offer.

Whilst Gill is almost at the end of this 7 month challenge, she has set her sights on a further gruelling task to raise money for charity.

She hopes to become the first woman with a stoma to swim the Channel. Gill is training and plans to take on the difficult crossing in 2023.