A BROTHER and sister swimming team have been shortlisted for a national charity award after swimming the width of the English Channel – in their back garden.

Jasper and Phoebe Laidlaw from Didcot swam the equivalent distance of the crossing from England to France at its narrowest point to raise money for national disability charity, Sense.

And now the pair have been shortlisted for the Fundraiser of the Year award at the Sense Awards 2020.

The siblings decided to challenge themselves after learning of the impact the pandemic was having on disabled people.

Jasper, 18, said: “My dad donates money to Sense. He was talking about it to us and we thought it sounds great, the work they do is amazing, and we wanted to help out.”

Jasper and Phoebe decided they wanted to do something to show their support, so they set themselves the challenge to swim the 21-mile challenge.

He said: “During lockdown we wanted to do something that was good while being assessable.

"It was difficult. It was more of an endurance thing – a mental game.”

He added: “The reason we both did it together was because we thought if one of us did it, it was quite likely we wouldn’t finish it.

"So, we thought if we both do it, we can motivate each other.”

Although they enjoy sport, the siblings do not describe themselves as swimmers.

But the pair took managed to fit it around their school work.

The swim took the pair 20 days to complete and they both managed to swim the full distance.

Jasper and Phoebe, 15, raised money on GoFundMe and from donations from friends and family. On the day they finished their swim the pair had raised more than £2,000.

Jasper said: “Phoebe and I are both surprised yet extremely grateful for our efforts to help being recognised and are honoured to be nominated for Fundraiser’s of the year.

“Though the swimming was tough it was worth every stroke and deep breath to help out Sense with the amazing work they do with those who are deafblind or living with complex disabilities.”

Richard Kramer, chief executive Sense, said: “We are delighted to shortlist Jasper and Phoebe for this award. They completed an amazing challenge during their summer holidays, raising a fantastic amount for Sense.

“Without the support of amazing supporters such as Jasper and Phoebe, Sense wouldn’t be able to support adults and children with complex disabilities.

“Particularly during the pandemic, our work has been more vital than ever, so we are extremely grateful for their support during this extraordinary year.”

The Sense Awards recognise the outstanding achievements of people with complex disabilities, as well as the staff, carers, family members, volunteers and fundraisers who support them.

This is the 17th annual awards, and the winners will be announced on December 1.