Alnwick mum trying to be first person with stoma bag to swim Channel to help beat stigma

A Northumberland woman plans to take on a solo swim of the English Channel to inspire more people with stomas to take the plunge in 2023.

Gill Castle from Alnwick was left with a stoma - or opening in her stomach - following the birth of her son, but says she wants to continue supporting others to lead full lives without feeling stigmatised or restricted by their injuries.

If successful, she would be the first stoma user in the world to complete the challenge - and she hopes it will encourage others to take the plunge.

She said: "I thought it would be a really great attention-grabbing exercise for women injured in childbirth.

"Also to try and encourage people with stomas that if I can swim all the way to France, which is 21 miles, by myself, you can go to your local pool. Ever since then, I've been training. Absolutely insane, is what it is... but you can but try!"

2022 has been a busy year for Ms Castle, who launched the charity Chameleon Buddies to support people who use stomas.

Her work took her to Kenya to work with women who have fistulas but do not have access to stoma products.

Closer to home, she has also run peer support groups in Alnwick where stoma users can meet others to share their experiences.

She said: "I am from Alnwick and I didn't have this and I'm just really pleased that we've got this opportunity to provide this kind of support for people in my own area."

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