A NINE-year-old York schoolgirl who spent many weeks on a children’s heart ward has raised more than £2,600 to make life better for other young patients.

When Elizabeth returned from inpatient treatment at Leeds General Infirmary to St Olave’s School - part of St Peter’s School - in 2018, she initially raised money through a cake sale to buy portable DVD units for young patients on the ward.

The Year 5 pupil, who lives near York, then suggested a sponsored swim for her entire class to head of sport Nathan Savage, and the sponsored swim took place in the St Peter’s School pool in December.

The 60 children aimed to swim as many lengths as they could in one and a half hours, with their original goal being to swim the width of the English Channel - 21 miles - but they ended up completing a combined total of 3,588 lengths, or 56 miles.

Elizabeth raised a total of £2,681.80 for the Children’s Heart Surgery Fund, impressing charity bosses so much that it is setting up a charity event called ‘The Big Swim.’

Elizabeth, accompanied by friends and members of staff who helped organise the event, presented the cheque to fund staff during school assembly.

She said: “I really enjoyed the sponsored swim and I would really like to thank all the children in J2 and the games and swimming staff, particularly Mrs Jones, Mr Savage, Mrs Brough, Mr Leake, and Mr Maycock.”

Mr Savage said the swim was ‘an excellent example of what can be achieved through teamwork and friendship,’ adding:”I would like to congratulate Elizabeth on her fundraising efforts and say a huge thank you to all the pupils who took part.”

Lisa Williams, senior community fundraising manager for the fund, said: “We are very grateful to Elizabeth and everyone at St Peter’s and St Olave’s who organised and took part in this fantastic sponsored swim.

“The amount raised will make a big difference to the treatment of young heart patients at Leeds General Infirmary.

“Elizabeth’s idea was so good that we are promoting a similar charity event this year at Children’s Heart Surgery Fund called “The Big Swim”, in which supporters around the region are already taking part, which involves people swimming the distance of the English Channel in their own time, in the comfort of their local pool.”

A spokesman said the fund supported the Leeds Congenital Heart Unit at Leeds General Infirmary by providing the funding and resources needed to care for a patient’s heart, mind, family and future.

He said the money raised would be used to buy new equipment for the ward including a library stocked with books to distract the children and maintain a fish tank which was a main attraction on the ward.

The funds would also purchase new life-saving equipment.