A PUPIL who was inspired to help homeless people after seeing them on the streets of London has raised £1,000 for charity by taking on a sponsored swim challenge.

Isla Parker, a pupil at Bradford Grammar School (BGS), was in the capital on holiday when the homeless people she witnessed prompted her to act. She began researching charities and decided to raise funds for Bradford Nightstop, which tackles youth homelessness.

Isla, 13, of Rawdon, came up with a sponsored challenge to swim 34km – the width of the English Channel – in the school’s swimming pool in two-hour intervals.

She said: “I really wanted to help the people I saw in London and I found the Nightstop charity online. I was thinking about what I could do to raise funds for them and, seeing as I swim a lot and take part in competitions, I thought a swim challenge would be a good idea.”

Determined Isla swam in BGS’s on-site pool for two hours per session, swimming approximately 200 lengths every day for a week to complete her challenge doing mostly front crawl and flipping to backstroke when she got tired.

“I did get tired, but I kept thinking of all the money I’d raise and it kept me going,” she said.

“There was one day when I had to do an hour before school and two hours afterwards and that was really tiring because I’d just done my end of year exams. It was on my 13th birthday, and I postponed my celebrations until after I had finished the challenge.

“The school swimming squad and Mr Robinson, my swimming coach, really helped keep me motivated. Afterwards I felt really good about it and I’m happy I’ve raised so much for the charity.”

Isla’s challenge raised £1,000 and she presented them with a cheque during a special assembly at the school. The charity, in turn, gave Isla a special award to thank her for all her hard work.

Bradford Nightstop manager, Joy Rainbow, said: "We’re blown away by Isla's energy, determination and kindness. It’s great to hear about a young person driven to help other young people. The funds raised will be invaluable in our 30th year as we continue to offer a night-by-night service. Her fundraising will help homeless young people to have safe, warm places to stay with our trained volunteers. These young people will also be helped to move on with their lives and find their true potential. We hope she will inspire others to fundraise and volunteer.”

Simon Hinchliffe, headmaster at BGS, said: “We’re so proud of Isla and her amazing efforts in swimming ‘the Channel.’ It says a great deal about a person who can see poverty and homelessness around them and be inspired to take action. Well done Isla.”