BY the time most people have finished their morning coffee, Kate Crutcher has already swum dozens of lengths.

Over the next month, the Royal Wootton Bassett grandmother is swimming the equivalent of 22 miles - the length of the English Channel at its narrowest point.

The marathon effort is one of the most ambitious Kate plans to tackle in her bid to take on up to 70 challenges before her 70th birthday in September.

She has shaved her head, walked across the top of the Millennium Dome with her granddaughter, been dragged from Portishead Marina by a trainee water rescue dog called Thor and jumped 15,000 ft from an aeroplane with a parachute strapped to her back.

Already, Kate, 69, has raised over £3,000 for Brighter Futures, Prospect Hospice, Dorothy House Hospice and Royal United Hospital charity Forever Friends.

A decade ago, her husband David died aged just 58 after battling stomach cancer. “He was lovely. He’d do anything for anyone,” she said. “He didn’t want to die in hospital, so Dorothy House hospice came to us.”

Almost eight years later, Kate was on holiday. With her 70th birthday fast approaching, her children asked what she wanted to do to celebrate. “I didn’t really fancy a party and I didn’t want things, because I was trying to declutter,” she said. “Between us, we decided we would do up to 70 challenges.”

But there was bad news waiting for Kate back in the UK. She got a call from son Colin. The 50-year-old had been diagnosed with tonsil cancer. “I didn’t know what to think. It was shock. I sat there completely amazed and just cried and cried.”

Kate supported Colin through his treatment. The Swindon man, who has now been given the all clear, had to travel to Churchill Hospital for therapy. Through that, Kate came into contact with GWH fundraising arm Brighter Futures. After Colin jumped out of a plane in aid of the charity, Kate followed him for her first ever skydive.

Now, she’s swimming 22 miles in four weeks. She does up to 100 lengths daily, swimming early in the morning in Bassett before getting on the bus to visit the pool in Malmesbury - despite being scared of water.

“If I had to choose between heights and water, I would choose the heights,” she said.

This year, she’s planning to go wing walking with her granddaughter, complete running races for Brighter Futures and will travel to the Great Wall of China in the autumn for a charity trek.

Kate’s family may think she’s barmy, but her four children are all quietly proud.

And whatever she takes on, her aim is to help others: “I’ve got so many friends and family who have died from cancer or who have had cancer treatment.

“Whatever I do, it’s nothing compared to what they have gone through.”

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