30 Bay in 30 Days Celebrates 10 years
12th October, 2023
As ‘30 Bays in 30 Days’ celebrates its 10th anniversary we speak to the woman whose fantastic idea introduced hundreds of islanders to raising funds for Les Bourgs while sea swimming around the Bailiwick. Liz Stonebridge is the hospice fundraising administrator but 10 years ago she was just a member of the public, grateful for the wonderful care the hospice provides:
Where did the idea for 30 Bays in 30 Days come from?
Liz Stonebridge: “I wasn’t working at here at the time but was visiting a close family member who was at Les Bourgs. That summer I had set myself a personal challenge to swim around as many bays in Guernsey as I could which quickly became addictive. I was really enjoying visiting different parts of the island I hadn’t seen for a while, and I found that sea swimming was hugely restorative and helped me at that time.
“My mum had been cared for at the hospice when I was 19 and I decided that I wanted to help raise them some money. I was aware of the successful 30/30 Cycle Challenge run by Ian Brown and wondered if I could do something similar. I pitched it to Hospice Director Jo Boyd and from there it snowballed.”
You must have been nervous that first year. Did you expect a big turnout?
Liz Stonebridge: I thought that if the inaugural event could attract 50 people, then that would be amazing. As it turned out it attracted over 500! I confess I was a little overwhelmed. In Guernsey I love that we have a real community and people are really positive and are prepared to embrace new ideas. The weather was great that first year and I was grateful to everybody that got involved.”
What happened to the event during the pandemic?
Liz Stonebridge: In many ways the Covid lockdown was a fantastic way of enlisting more swimmers to take part. We attracted over 1500 which was just incredible. But it shows that so many islanders wanted to get out into nature and embrace the wonderful things that the islands have to offer although I was concerned that the restrictions would impact on the number of participants, but I needn’t have worried as the weather was kind and everyone wanted to get out of the house.
We are so lucky to have a huge number of beautiful beaches on our doorstep and so many people have said being involved reminded them of their childhood and gave them inspiration to keep going from the start of July through to the end of September. We also have a 12 Bays of Christmas event which is an initiative dreamt up by two local families which encourages people to keep swimming for even longer. Taking a dip in our waters during winter is extremely invigorating.
So how much money have you raised since day one?
Liz Stonebridge: The event has raised over a quarter of a million pounds in 10 years which is truly amazing and this year we had 783 swimmers and made £20,000. All funds raised go towards the £1.75 million required each year to meet running costs.
It’s such a great concept so have you exported it to the other islands?
Liz Stonebridge: Yes, we’ve shared the concept with Jersey Hospice and The National Trust of Jersey and last year the hospice also helped to launch a smaller 5 bays in 5 days event in Alderney to raise money for Alderney Cancer Relief and the Alderney Wildlife Trust.
It is such a fantastic social event too with large groups of people swimming together, looking after each other, sharing stories and hot drinks. When I started the event 10 years ago I never expected it to go on this journey. When the Covid restrictions allowed people to go swimming in pairs it was a real boost to the hospice and to the overall mental health of islanders and I congratulate the States of Guernsey for making that decision.
What was your job 10 years ago?
Liz Stonebridge: I’d been in the same job for a while and really enjoyed it but as time went on I realised that I wanted to move to the third sector and ironically 30 Bays In 30 Days has led to me getting my dream job here at the hospice. It feels like it has gone full circle for me and I am really pleased to give something back to the organisation which looked after my mum and my family so well.
For more information please visit http://www.30bays.org
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