Derbyshire man set to swim across one of England’s biggest lakes in aid of charity close to his heart

A Central England Co-op colleague will be pushing himself to his limit to raise money for Dementia UK as he prepares to swim the 5.25 miles of one of the country’s largest lakes.

Paul Fairhurst, from Belper, has signed up to take part in the Chillswim Coniston event to raise vital funds for Central England Co-op’s charity partner Dementia UK, which provides specialist care and support for those living with dementia, and their loved ones, through its Admiral Nurse service.

Paul will be at the start line at Lake Coniston in the Lake District on Sunday, 31 August, and Paul said he was keen to do something outside of his comfort zone to raise money for a cause which means a lot to him after losing his beloved gran to the condition.

Paul, Head of Risk and Compliance at Central England Co-op, said: “When I grew up so many of my happy memories involved my gran doing things with us, whether taking us ten pin bowling or to the football at the weekend.

“When she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s the hardest part was when she did not recognise me anymore. For someone to have been there all of my life to start calling me by the wrong name was really hard.

“When she died there was not the support there that there is nowadays. It would have been great back then for her to have had the support that the Dementia UK Admiral Nurses can now give.

“Therefore I really wanted to do something for Dementia UK, particularly with finding out more about their great work through them being Central England Co-op’s corporate charity over the past couple of years.

“When I thought about something to do, I wanted to do something a bit scary, something that really pushed me. I like to set myself tough challenges – I’m not one for the easy life. The only way to know what you’re capable of is to do something outside your comfort zone.

“Coniston is one of the biggest lakes in the country – 5.25 miles in length – and I’m swimming it from one side to the other. It’s not something you can just turn up and do on the day. You have to put in the hard yards in training and properly prepare.

“I’ve no idea how I will feel until I get on that start line but I will finish it – there is not a doubt in my mind.”

Paul has funded his participation in the event himself to ensure 100% of the money he raises goes to the charity.

He is no stranger to challenges, having also tackled an Ironman triathlon a few years ago and he is a member of Belper Ten Twenty Triathlon Club. He added that he hopes to inspire others to push themselves out of their comfort zone.

Paul said: “I am a 43-year-old partial to a kebab and a pint at the weekend. If I can do it anyone can. When most people are sitting at home in the morning, nice and warm, having breakfast, I will be jumping in to a dirty lake training for this – that must be worth donating a few quid!”

To support Paul visit

For further information on the work Dementia UK do, and for fundraising opportunities, please visit


Notes to editors

About Central England Co-operative

Central England Co-operative is one of the largest independent retail co-operative societies in the UK. 

It is a modern, forward-looking organisation employing over 8,000 staff, with the Society’s principal areas of activity being food, funeral services, travel shops, and property investment.

Central England Co-operative has over 400 trading outlets across 16 counties including; West Midlands, Warwickshire, Worcestershire, Staffordshire, Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Rutland, Nottinghamshire, Northamptonshire, Lincolnshire, West Yorkshire, South Yorkshire, Suffolk, Norfolk, Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire.  The Society has an ambitious food store development programme for 2019.

Central England Co-operative is proud of its reputation for ethical business practices and corporate responsibility.  It is a member of Business in the Community, the membership organisation that stands for responsible business, and has also won many business awards for excellence.  The Society supports a number of charities including Dementia UK and invests a percentage of its trading profit into local communities.

Becoming a member of Central England Co-operative offers a whole host of benefits ranging from collecting points every time you spend in store to earn a share of the profits, access to members activities and community initiatives including the Community Dividend Fund, which hands out grants of up to £5,000 to charities and good causes across the Society’s trading estate.

Find out how to become a Central England Co-operative member by calling 0800 0501 601, emailing or visiting

For more information visit, follow Central England Co-operative on Twitter: @mycoopfood, and on Facebook:

Rob Smyth and James Brindle at Central England Co-operative on 01543 421390

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