takegoodcare is delighted to announce the second winner of our Unsung Hero Community Award – sea swimmer and all-round community star Ruth Rose.
Ruth has worked for countless charities and good causes over the years, and is the inspiration behind Seaford Mermaids.
The group is almost 400 strong and provides a community for Seaford and Newhaven sea swimmers to safely take a dip in the waves all year round, no matter the weather.
Ruth began the group by accident around a year after moving down to the south coast. Having spent her working years swimming in the Serpentine before heading to her London office, in retirement Ruth was immediately drawn to the East Sussex coastline.
“I’ve always liked swimming and when I used to work in the city, I would wake up very early and get the first train into London and swim in the Serpentine before going to the office. I did it maybe three or four working days a week, and it was an amazing way of relaxing and refocusing my mind,” she says.
“When I retired, I left Camberley and moved to near where my daughter lives. I bought a house in the community, where everyone works together. I wanted the sort of neighbours who were friendly, and didn’t care who you were. Hard working people who help each other – that community atmosphere that you don’t always get elsewhere.
“Of course, as soon as I came here I was able to transition male to female, although I had been part female for a long time. And what’s wonderful is everyone around here thinks nothing of it. No weird attitudes or anything like that at all.
“I immediately began swimming in Newhaven or Seaford, when the sea is gentler, every morning. I would swim around 7am and one day someone was walking along and saw me, and asked if they could join me! She swam with me and then, of course, two dog walkers came along, thought “you look like you’re having fun” and asked if they could join us too.
“Gradually more and more people came along, so much so that we had around 12 or 15 regulars who wanted to swim all year round. We have a nucleus of people of around 20 or so who have known each other for seven or eight years, and we swim all year round.
“Eventually people would see a crowd of us in the early mornings, and they would ask to join! So we just grew and grew, so much so that it was time to keep track of everyone. I set up a WhatsApp group in order to help spread the knowledge of where we were swimming, and how to swim in these conditions. Because you can’t just wander out into the sea when it’s cold or stormy.
“I began writing a forecast for each day, every night, and then that spread to people outside our group! It was going out to about 150 people.”
takegoodcare is recognising Ruth not only for her establishment of Seaford Mermaids, but also a life of work for good causes.
She has helped set up groups to work with NHS England on what the future holds for the next decade, works as a researcher for Kings College Hospital, is a voice for LGBT+ issues regarding end-of-life care, is a member of South East England Forum on Aging (SEEFA), and sits on the Age UK policy committee.
Ruth was presented with her award at Newhaven Enterprise Centre, alongside friends and fellow swimmers Andrea Hargreaves and Irene Marot. Irene, who played Deborah ‘DD’ Dixon in Brookside during the 1990s, said: “Sea swimming has completely changed my life. It gives meaning to life and changes my day. It’s incredibly significant.”
takegoodcare founder Barbara adds: “Ruth is such a deserving recipient of the takegoodcare Unsung Hero Community Award! She embodies everything about a good citizen and her voluntary work has benefited to so many people down the years.
“She has an infectious, positive energy that makes you feel good when you are around her.”
About the award
The Unsung Hero Award is an initiative set up by takegoodcare’s founder Barbara Rowe to recognise those who give something back to the community. This can be volunteers for local charities, carers in the community or simply someone who has done something extraordinary for others.
You can nominate someone for the next takegoodcare Unsung Hero Award by filling in the details on the takegoodcare.co.uk website. Criteria for nominees are as follows:
- Must live or work within the Lewes District Council area
- Be delivering something extraordinary or beyond the call of duty
- Be an unpaid volunteer or carer
- Be nominated by an individual or workplace or organisation with whom they have been active with for a reasonable period of time
- Be over the age of 18
Photos (left to right): Andrea Hargreaves, Ruth Rose, Barbara Rowe and Irene Marot