AN INTREPID grandmother has raised hundreds of pounds for a cancer appeal by jumping into the icy Antarctic sea.

Jenny Flynn took the polar plunge to raise funds for the £1m appeal to create a centre for excellence in cancer care in County Durham.

The 'Excellence In Cancer Care' appeal has been launched by the County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust’s official charity and is being backed by The Northern Echo to commemorate its 150th anniversary as a campaigning newspaper.

The Northern Echo: Jenny and John Flynn after taking the Antarctic plungeJenny and John Flynn after taking the Antarctic plunge

The aim is to raise £1m by the summer to improve facilities at the chemotherapy day unit at the University Hospital of North Durham, where cancer patients from across the county can choose to have their initial treatment.

Jenny, who chairs the charity, said: “I felt I needed to do something to show the way because cancer touches everyone and this is such an important appeal.”

She was joined in the icy challenge by daredevil husband John, who supported the appeal last year by abseiling from Middlesbrough’s Transporter Bridge to celebrate his 70th birthday. The couple’s daughter Katie has also backed the appeal with a 66-mile bike ride.

Jenny and John, who live in Broompark, Durham, decided to brave the freezing temperatures during a holiday to Ushuaia in Argentina. From there, they joined a 10-day cruise expedition to the Antarctic, visiting islands by inflatable boats.

John was following in the footsteps of his father, Harry, who travelled to the Antarctic on a whaling ship, The Southern Venturer, which was built at the Haverton Hill shipyard, at Stockton, where he worked.

Jenny said: “I didn’t want John to have the bragging rights after he abseiled off the Transporter Bridge, so I thought I’d do something more daring, only for him to decide he’d do it as well.

“It was a real challenge because I hate cold water, but they had a doctor and a defibrillator ready just in case. It was absolutely freezing but I’m glad I did it.”

Jenny, whose plunge has raised more than £500 so far, is appealing to businesses to support the '2020 for 2020' initiative which aims to sign up 2,020 business willing to raise £1,000 this year for the Excellence in Cancer Care campaign.

“We are so grateful for the help we’ve been given so far, but it would be wonderful to get more businesses on board. We can’t always make cancer go away, but we can do our best to make the treatment as comfortable as possible,” she said.

• To support the appeal, email the County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust Charity Team on or call 01325-743781 or donate at

• To make a contribution in recognition of Jenny’s polar plunge, go to and search for “Jennifer Flynn”.