FUNDRAISERS who swam almost 300 miles between them earned a splash of cash to aid hospice care.

A team of 12 snapped on their silicone hats and pulled on plastic goggles to mark Sobell House Hospice's 40th anniversary, tackling 40 lengths in each of 40 sessions throughout last year.

The group was rallied by the hospice's education lead Kate Butcher and raised more than £4,000 for the palliative care specialists in Headington.

She said: "The group regularly swims. Some people swam all around the world on holidays and in hotel pools."

Most members including Mrs Butcher live in Faringdon and took on 25 metre pools at local leisure centres - swimming a total of 480km between them.

Among the group was Faringdon grandmother-of-five Gill Eakins, whose husband John Eakins died at Sobell House in September 2013.

His death came just two months after he was given the devastating diagnosis of a terminal brain tumour, aged 70.

Mrs Eakins, also 70, said she took part in the swimming challenge because she 'wanted to give something back'.

She said: "They were wonderful at Sobell, they really looked after him.

"It's almost like being in a family - you start talking to other relatives of patients. When family came my granddaughter could use the relatives' room and drew pictures to give to him."

She said the hospice's chaplain Bob Whorton was 'marvellous' and would come and sit with Mr Eakins, a retired youth worker, to pray together.

She added: "I never say I have 'lost' my husband, the way some people do, because I know where he is. He is in heaven."

Mrs Eakins has previously supported Sobell by taking part in the Moonlight Stroll, in which hundreds of supporters walk through the night in Oxford.

The retired care worker also cherishes the Lights of Love service in December, when people can attach a message to a Christmas tree in memory of their loved ones.

Mrs Eakins said she finds swimming 'therapeutic', adding: "I do a lot of thinking when I'm going up and down the pool."

Mrs Butcher said swimming helps to 'clear her head' and recommended the sport for anyone who might not be able to tackle a sponsored run.

She said: "You're not training for a particular goal. I was able to fit it around work and some people went in their lunch breaks. There were benefits for me because I was exercising throughout the whole year."

She said she was 'blown away' by the fundraising total, which was collected mainly through a JustGiving page online, and said some cash is still to come.