QVC presenter Julia Roberts is ready to make a splash in July by organising a celebrity swimming gala to raise money for Polio and leukaemia charities. Celebrities including ex-Palace and England footballers Geoff Thomas and John Salako, and Team GB Paralympians James Crisp and Anne Wafula Strike are due to support Julia in the July 7 event, which will be compered by Radio 5 Live swimming correspondent Bob Ballard. The event will take place at Trinity School at Shirley Park, Croydon, on Sunday 7 July from 11:00am – 1:30pm.
The ‘fun’ and ‘absolutely not competitive’ gala will jointly benefit British Polio Fellowship and Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research, two charities that resonate personally with Julia. Julia will set out to swim 100 lengths of the pool, the equivalent of 2.5km, a huge challenge for the presenter who is still undergoing treatment and has never attempted such a distance before. An entertaining celebrity swimming gala will run concurrently on the other side of the pool featuring friends, family and colleagues of Julia’s from the world of TV, sport, and entertainment.
The event will culminate in Julia raising the roof when she reaches the 100 length mark accompanied in the pool by her daughter, followed by a medal presentation for the celebrity swimmers representing Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research and The British Polio Fellowship. To support Julia’s event, please visit the Team Splash July page set up by Julia, benefiting British Polio Fellowship and Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research equally: http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/team/SplashJuly
Julia has been affected by Polio and leukaemia and is an inspirational role model to thousands. Julia said: “I was shocked and quite frightened when I was diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukaemia in April 2012. I was told that if I had been given the diagnosis ten years previously the treatment and prognosis for my condition would have been very different, but that there was now what can only be described as a ‘miracle’ drug. It is thanks to research, funded almost entirely by charities like Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research, that these miracle drugs have changed the treatment for CML and I want to show my gratitude by helping to raise money so that more people can benefit in the way that I have.”
Geoff Thomas, who is a leukaemia survivor and ambassador for Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research, explained: “I was visiting a friend in hospital when I met Julia a few months back now. Our paths had crossed before when I was at Palace and she was presenting on local TV. I was shocked to find out she was a patient and since then we have been in constant contact. I’m delighted to help out with her event and to raise money to stop people dying from blood cancer.”
Julia added: “I am also proud to be an Ambassador for The British Polio Fellowship and to be able to play a key role in British Polio Month in July. I am one of the lucky ones, I am a Polio survivor. I was wearing a calliper when I left hospital on Christmas Eve 1957 and my parents were told I always would. They wouldn’t accept that, and while swimming strengthened my leg, I made excuses if people noticed my limp. Five years ago I decided I didn’t want to make excuses any more. It was not my fault I had contracted Polio. I ‘came out’ and it was truly liberating. Now I’m looking forward to taking the next step and helping the charity make British Polio Month a success for all those like myself living with Polio and Post Polio Syndrome (PPS).”
Commenting on her new role as Ambassador for British Polio Fellowship to mark the start of British Polio Month (July-August), Julia said: “People think that Polio is no longer a problem in this country, so I’m helping the charity to raise awareness of the facts. Even though there have been no new cases of Polio in the UK, many thousands of families like mine live with the after effects of Polio every day. There are over 120,000 people in the UK living with Polio and PPS, and the British Polio Fellowship does great work in supporting sufferers, as well as their families and friends. I am particularly interested in helping the charity raise awareness of PPS in the health professionals’ community, as an early diagnosis of PPS is critical to a good care plan to help people cope.”
“We are both excited and delighted to welcome Julia on board,” said Ted Hill MBE, CEO of The British Polio Fellowship. “Far from being a token celebrity, Juila has her own ideas on how to help those living with the effects of Polio and PPS. We are extremely grateful to Julia for helping us fundraise, while the swimming event will be a fantastic way to start British Polio Month in July and we are all looking forward to it. A massive thank you to Julia, Trinity School who are hosting the event, QVC, Bob Ballard, James Crisp and Katie, John Salako, Geoff Thomas and all the other celebrities and volunteers. They have agreed to give their time up for our charity and our friends at Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research on 7 July, to support Julia’s cause and that’s really terrific,” concluded Ted.