Nicola plans a fundraising festive dip

Nicola Oakley, doing a fundraising Christmas Day sea swim. Image shows her wearing a nurse's uniform, pictured outside with buildings behind

Published 13 December 2022

A nurse will swap the ward for the water to take on a fundraising sea swim on Christmas Day.

Nicola Oakley, a chemotherapy nurse educator at the Cathedral Day Unit at the Kent and Canterbury Hospital, plans to take the plunge to raise money for equipment such as specialist cooling caps for patients undergoing cancer treatment.

The caps are worn during chemotherapy infusions and stop the drug reaching the hair follicles, helping to prevent hair loss.

Nicola, 32, said: “The caps are fantastic and help people keep their dignity and sense of self during their treatment.

“They aren’t for everyone – some people find them too uncomfortable – but for those who can tolerate them it really does seem to work.

“But the ones we have on the unit are about 10 years old now and it’s getting harder to get them repaired so one of the things we are considering using the money for is replacing them.”

Nicola, who lives in Canterbury, will return to her parents’ home in Clacton for her festive dip, where it is a seasonal tradition for locals to take to the sea on Christmas Day.

She said: “It’s quite fitting that I’ll be diving into a cold sea and the money could be spent on cold caps!

“I am a fan of sea swimming but usually in the summer. This is the first time I’ve tried it at Christmas, and I will be wearing my usual swimming costume so I do expect to get very cold.

“But it will be worth it to raise the money and help our patients.”

The stepmum of four has set herself a target of £500 and is already half way there.

All the money raised will go towards East Kent Hospitals Charity to be used to benefit the Cathedral Day Unit.

Nicola said: “We will be doing lots of fundraising over the next year to help raise money.

“The unit really is a special place, and we try to help people see beyond their cancer and treatment.

“We really get to know them and try to make their visit something to enjoy; we’re always singing and having fun and the staff are absolutely amazing.”

You can add to Nicola’s fundraising at https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/nicola-oakley7