For ‘warm, funny and fearless’ Lynne Roper of Mary Tavy, a paramedic who was passionate about outdoor swimming, ‘passing it down the line’ didn’t need to end at her death. “People can swim and take me with them,” she said.
Lynne did not mean this literally. Living with a brain tumour, she knew her condition was terminal, but she was determined to see the adventures she recorded about her sixty-plus wild swims published to inspire others to swim wild, ‘read water’ and take educated risks as she did.
St Luke’s cared for Lynne at Turnchapel before sadly, she passed away in 2016, and it was while she was in our care she met writer Tanya Shadrick, who she entrusted with her diaries for posthumous publication.
Thanks to Tanya’s tireless editing, the diaries became the book Lynne had envisioned, ‘Wild Woman Swimming – a Journal of Westcountry Waters’. Not only was it published in 2018 – following consultation with Lynne’s parents, Mike and Jenny Roper – in 2019 the book went on to be longlisted for the prestigious Wainwright Prize for Nature Writing.
In keeping with Lynne’s wishes, profits from the sale of the book are benefiting St Luke’s, and recently Mike and Jenny, together with Lynne’s brother Dave and her friend Sophie Pierce – who wrote the introduction to the book – visited Turnchapel to present Community Fundraiser Pete Ward with a cheque for £1,000.
Mike and Jenny said: “We will be forever grateful to St Luke’s and all the doctors and nurses for the tremendous, loving care our daughter received in the last six weeks of her life.”
Peter said: “St Luke’s was privileged to care for Lynne in the last weeks of her life, and we are so grateful to her parents for this generous donation that will make a difference to more families who need our help during a very challenging time.”
Wild Woman Swimming – a book for ‘outdoor swimmers, nature lovers and all who prize the wild and free’ – is published by The Selkie Press.
Text from St Luke’s Hospice Plymouth reproduced with permission.