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Thursday, 24 July 2014

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Carlisle mum conquers fear of water for her dad - and TV show

A brave woman has conquered her fear of water – motivated by the memory of her dad.

Melissa Andrews photo
Melissa Andrews

Melissa Andrews was 20 when her dad Cliff Purdham went missing in 1998. His body was found in the lake at Ullswater four years later.

The tragedy left mum-of-four Melissa, of Etterby, Carlisle, terrified of water.

She refused to go anywhere near swimming pools or open water for 15 years.

But her life changed when, now aged 36, she was picked by producers of a TV show to take part in a gruelling 70-mile triathlon in California.

One of the challenges involved her biggest fear – a 1.2-mile open swim.

Despite nearly backing out, Melissa bravely decided to stick it out and hasn’t looked back since.

She said: “When I found out about the swim it was the worst possible thing anyone could ever ask me to do. I was heartbroken when my dad drowned and have had a massive fear of water ever since.

“People kept telling me I would be fine but all I could think about was dad.

“But I decided to just put my head down and get on with it and I joined the Carlisle Tri-Club who were so amazing and lovely.

“I went out running and swimming with them and they got me through it – without them I couldn’t have done it.”

The charity challenge also featured a-56 mile bike ride and a half marathon.

Melissa, who had never done any exercise before, didn’t realise what she had let herself in for.

She said: “The training was intense. Before that I was really lazy – I would get tired running for the bus.

“It was a big shock when I found out the full extent of what was being asked of me.

“But once I threw myself into it I got addicted to the exercise and it has totally changed my life.”

Melissa, who has four sons, including the youngest of her twins, Harley, 11, who suffers from severe cerebral palsy, also had to kick her 40-a-day smoking habit.

Her efforts were almost derailed a week before the challenge when she tore a ligament while out training in the Peak District.

But the battling pink-haired, heavily-tattoed mum, who is also a Women’s Institute member, managed to overcome that setback.

Melissa’s incredible journey will be featured in Channel 5’s Go Hard of Go Home tonight at 7pm.

She said: “I’m not looking forward to seeing myself on TV because I remember what I looked like when we started filming.

“I was five stone heavier then and have dropped several dress sizes since – my whole life really has changed entirely.”

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