A pledge of £300,000 to Diabetes UK and Rainbows Children’s Hospice in memory of a woman who died while swimming the English Channel to raise money for the charity has been revealed as a hoax.
The pledge, made offline and split between the two charities, was made to Virgin Money Giving, which then looked into the veracity of the pledge, however the money has not been received by the charities.
Donations had begun to pour in for the two charities following the death of Susan Taylor (pictured), a 34-year-old woman, who collapsed one mile out from the French coast in an epic fundraising swim last Sunday.
Rainbows chief executive Geoff Ellis condemned the actions of the hoaxer.
“We are shocked that a person would carry out this appalling act at such a tragic and emotional time,” he said.
“Susan devoted her life to Rainbows and since her sad passing, kind-hearted people – many of whom did not know Susan – have honoured her memory by pledging generous donations to her online fundraising page.
“We have relayed the news to the family who are devastated that someone would exploit this heart-breaking situation.”
Diabetes UK fundraising director Paul Amadi, meanwhile, confirmed that the pledge was a hoax and added: "This is obviously extremely upsetting for Susan’s family at a time when they are still struggling to come to terms with their loss and we will do anything we can to support them."
The actual total of donations which have been made online to Taylor’s two Virgin Money Giving pages, as of Friday afternoon, stand at around £85,000, including gift aid.