Woman who lost husband to suicide braves icy sea waters in aid of homeless charity

Mother of two, June Curtin, from Spanish Point, Co Clare, who is raising funds for Mid West Simon Community homeless services by taking 63 dips in the icy sea, between December 1-22.

by David Raleigh

A well-known sea swimmer is to brave 63 dips in the icy waters off the Clare coast during December in order to raise funds for homeless services across the Mid West.

June Curtin has teamed up with the Limerick-headquartered Mid West Simon Community to raise €50,000 to help the charity’s clients who are struggling to cope without a home, food, or family supports.

Ms Curtin, who took her first fundraising dip in the ocean this Wednesday morning, and her two children, suffered “unimaginable loss” when her husband and their father, John, died by suicide in August 2013.

The 49-year-old, whose family has owned and run the Spanish Armada hotel for the past 50 years, said sea swimming has helped her stay afloat since her husband’s sudden passing.

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“My children were five and nine at the time; it’s ongoing, it’s difficult, it’s life-changing, absolutely. I started swimming because I had tried all other forms of exercise but nothing seemed to work and I was suffering very badly from stress and anxiety. I had heard about the benefits of sea swimming, but I couldn’t swim, but I’ve learned and I’ve never looked back,” Ms Curtin explained.

The experience she took from her first dip into the sea was life-changing for all the right reasons: “It’s almost like you leave your troubles on the shoreline and you get into the water and all you can think of are the waves coming at you at that very moment, and you haven’t time to think of anything else, because you’re living in the now.”

“Helping others” also helps, and she has raised funds for both Pieta House and Simon over the last few years through her own sea swimming community Snamhaí Sásta, which has 25,000 people following on Instagram.

“I’m passionate about the homeless and people less fortunate than ourselves. At the moment 8,212 people, 953 families are without a home,” she offered.

“My late dad John Burke used to say all the years he was in business, ‘treat people like you would like your own (family) to be treated’, so I’ve carried that throughout my life and I like to give back because I know what it’s like to go through hard times, and I suppose only for the support of my own family after my husband died, it could have been a very different situation for me also.”

“When you are faced with an unimaginable tragedy it makes you look at life very differently as well. I’ve become hugely conscious of gratitude and I have come to realise that nobody escapes this life without walking a step in pain, and I think we should all do our bit to help one another out, and that’s why I decided I would work with the Simon Community,” added Ms Curtin, who has also launched a fundraising single which can be purchased for €5 from Mid West Simon offices in Limerick and Ennis and at selected retailers.

Welcoming Ms Curtin’s three dips a day fundraiser between December 1-22, Jackie Bonfield, chief executive, Mid West Simon Community said: “June is a great fundraiser and supporter of Mid West Simon Community and we greatly appreciate her fundraising efforts, and her support and those who support this fundraising campaign will make a huge difference in the lives of so many vulnerable people throughout our community”.

All funds raised will go towards Simon’s homeless services in Limerick, Clare and North Tipperary.

To donate online visit: https://www.idonate.ie/fundraiser/Simon3DipsADay