Dennis Bree Swims a Mile a Day at Helens Bay to #EndFoodPoverty

Photos by Paul McCambridge, words by Maureen McCoy 

Many of us will have set ourselves a personal challenge at one time or another and this year has proven to be particularly apt with gyms, pools and sports clubs closed and a lot of folks either out of work or working from home, solo and outdoor challenges have soared. For many it’s a personal thing, health and wellbeing, a better lifestyle choice but sometimes we find a cause that we feel is so much greater than ourselves and incites us to use our talents to raise others awareness. 

Dennis Bree with his big wee brother Andrew

Dennis Bree, freestyle swimmer and brother of Olympic Breast-stroker Andrew heard of the plight of undernourished children in Belfast and decided he would help by raising funds for Life Hub NI, Belfast’s own food bank charity.

Dennis’ challenge; swim a mile a day in the sea for the entire month of November. 

His aim; to raise £10,000 

“I listened to Dr Julie-Ann Maney on local radio talking about the infants and children she treats in Belfast. Children who are so undernourished and hungry that they will tuck toast into their nappy in case they don’t get anything else to eat again that day.

This is 2020, this is so heart breaking and we have to do something to help.” 

Dennis was so moved by hearing Dr Julie-Ann Maney speak that he searched out the Belfast charity Life Hub NI and resolved to do what he could to support them.

Life Hub NI was set up in 2017 by Edmund Aruofor to provide fresh food parcels to support families and people in need in the Belfast area. 

With an energy and enthusiasm that belies his 60 years, Edmund told me how he starts his day at 4.30am, driving to supermarkets and independent stores who donate foodstuffs.

With a cheeky grin he says; 

“I’m 60 and I don’t feel it! I believe if you have a passion and a vision you don’t have time to get old!”

Working long hours every week and with the charity not closing for Christmas or Easter when would he find time to age? 

“I believe everyone who needs help should be given help”. 

Edmund has seen a huge increase in the amount of people needing this help since the pandemic with an average of 19 additional families every week earlier in the year, this week alone saw a staggering 30 new families reach out for aid.

It’s a far cry from his career as a printer in London and subsequently a Teacher of English as a Foreign Language when he settled in Belfast 5 years ago. Before that Edmund hadn’t been involved in food banks but his wife had. When he saw the need amongst his pupils’ in Belfast he knew what he had to do, and Life Hub NI was born. 

Edmund was aware of the amount of food that is wasted and believed he could get that food for free. He was right and M&S Forestside and Lisburn Road branches have supported Life Hub NI from the outset, he is now hoping wholesalers will come on board and be able to add to the produce it is his mission to collect and distribute.

As Christmas grows ever closer, more people are treading a fine line, we often hear of the plight of those having to choose between “heating or eating”, Edmund and his volunteers are doing an amazing job to try to alleviate at least part of the equation. 

With the generosity of Slims Healthy Kitchen, Life Hub NI have secured Christmas dinners for 250 adults and 110 children.

Funds raised by Dennis and others will help keep the vehicles on the road to gather and distribute supplies and aid in the running costs of storage and the Life Hub NI distribution centre in Townsend Enterprise Park.

To date (30thNovember 2020) Denis has smashed his £10k target and raised £10,480 

Donate at

http://bit.ly/32J1eH5

Or

https://uk.gofundme.com/f/help-stop-food-poverty-ni

#HubLife#EndFoodPoverty

Other ways to help;

With covid restrictions, Life Hub Ni have set up a bubble to which currently no more volunteers can be added but Edmund is calling out for businesses and wholesalers who may be able to help.

©MAC Visual Media – Belfast – 29th Nov 2020 Dennis Bree from Helen’s Bay, fist bumps Edmund Aruofor of Life Hub NI, after completing his penultimate one mile swim to raise funds for the food bank charity based in Townsend Street, Belfast. Picture by Paul McCambridge/MAC Visual Media.

Supermoon Swimming

151116pmc-supermoon-swim-50b
There is something magic in a moonlight swim, with that disc gleaming pearly white.
The call of a bird across the beach, I can’t see her in this muted light
As I take off my shoes and press bare feet into the cool, damp sands,
I remember a time many moons ago, when I held my brothers hands.
Our first night swim, a Donegal beach, we begged our parents consent.
And scrambled our way down a steep sand-dune, there stood with nervous intent.
I couldn’t have been more than seven or eight but I remember that night so clear.
Adventure, excitement, the cold and damp, all tinged with an escence of fear.
Now forty years on and again I stand, as wavelets caress the shore
Silver threads dance that are soon to be lost, as the waves retreat once more.
As I cast my clothes in a heap on the sand, my skin glows a milky white
And I step into the water, a silver-tipped grey, under pearlescent moonlight.

YULETIDE SWIMS 2015

Newcastle Xmas 11b

CHRISTMAS EVE SWIM at King John’s Pier, Carlingford, Co Louth.

24th December; Register 11.30am, swim starts 12noon.

CHRISTMAS DAY SWIM at Newcastle Harbour, Co Down. Raising funds for Knockevin School Dundrum.

25th December, 11.30am

XMAS MORNING SWIM  at Myrtleville Beach, Cork, 11am.

DARE TO DIP for Cancer Focus NI at Crawfordsburn, Co Down.

Registration £10.

1st January 2016; 11am. http://www.communityni.org/event/dare-dip#.Vnmq0fmLTIU

NEW YEARS DAY DIP at Brown’s Bay, Co Antrim

1st January 2016; 1pm.  http://newyeardip.weebly.com/

NEW YEAR’S DAY SPLASH for mental Health Charity AWARE, Newcastle Beach, Co Down.

1st January 2016: 10.30am

Newcastle Beach near the beach gate entrance to the Slieve Donard Resort and Spa. Access is available from the beach or from the Slieve Donard Resort and Spa

The first 70 people registered will receive a free spa pass for two at the Slieve Donard Resort and Spa or Culloden Estate and Spa (valued at £60)! 

Registration is £10 and that includes an AWARE t-shirt.

www.aware-ni.org/newyearsplash

If you would like to know more about AWARE or about the event please don’t hesitate to contact kieran@aware-ni.org.

Newcastle Xmas 10b

WILD ART

Aside

WILD ART

Irish Artist Neil Shawcross – Weekly dip in Strangford Lough

Image

 

A weekly sojourn            To catch his bliss

Determination                 In a clenched fist

Strides in with purpose    And submits to the Sea

Tense for one moment     Then exquisitely free

 

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