A mass-participation swimming event raising money for charity has been cancelled because of a surge in Covid-19 cases that followed the easing of lockdown.
The Children with Cancer UK Swim Serpentine, which is organised by London Marathon Events and fundraises for Children with Cancer UK, was originally scheduled for 26 September.
Last year, about 6,000 swimmers joined the race, which takes place in Hyde Park’s Serpentine, the venue for the open water swimming competition at the 2012 Olympics.
In a message to participants, organisers said: “Since we were last in touch on 24 July, we’ve been working hard on our plans to stage Children with Cancer UK Swim Serpentine in an appropriately socially distanced way on Saturday 26 September.
“However, the recent surges in Covid-19 since lockdown was eased and the uncertain current situation sadly mean it’s not possible to stage the event this year.”
Participants can choose between a full refund or rolling over their place to 2021.
Children with Cancer UK expects 40% loss in income
Children with Cancer UK said the event was expected to raise £123,000, and that together with the cancellation of other fundraising events, will contribute to an expected 40% drop in income for the charity this year. Children with Cancer UK’s income stood at £16.8m in 2018.
The charity was also expecting to raise £3m from the London Marathon, which is now going ahead as a virtual event for everyone but elite runners.
Mark Brider, CEO of Children with Cancer UK, said: “We are naturally disappointed that this year’s Children with Cancer UK Swim Serpentine will not be taking place.
“Last year’s event was a spectacular success, however, with the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and the uncertain current situation, we reached the very difficult decision with event organisers not to proceed.
“I would like to thank all swimmers who signed up for the event, including the over 200 people who signed up in support of Children with Cancer UK. Children with Cancer UK Swim Serpentine will be back next year, and we look forward to seeing everyone at the event in 2021.”
Brider also called for the government to support medical research charities.
He said: “The continued loss of income that we are experiencing highlights the urgent need for further government support for charities such as ours. We need to ensure that the loss in income does not affect our ability to support lifesaving research projects.
“As only around 3% of cancer research funding currently goes towards research into childhood cancer – we would like to see the government commit to providing a level of matched funding to preserve charity-funded research and ensure that the contributions of charities to the UK’s research base are retained.”