A MULTI-talented music teacher threw herself into the deep end to raise money to help her fellow musicians survive the hardship of the coronavirus pandemic.

Helen Minshall, who has been teaching music at Bolton schools for more than 20 years, including Harper Green, St George's Westhoughton, and St Stephen's Kearsley Moor, swam lake Windermere end to end while playing the trombone, raising over £2,000.

The 10-and-a-half-mile feat took Helen just over nine hours despite pulling a shoulder muscle around seven miles in and stopping to play songs such as 'I'm forever blowing bubbles' and 'Smoke on the water' once an hour on her red plastic instrument.

Helen has raised over £2,000 so far for the Royal Society of Musicians to "help support musicians who are struggling financially due to the current pandemic".

She is a keen long distance swimmer and so decided to combine her passions to raise money for a cause she said was "very dear" to her heart.

Helen said: "So many musicians have lost their income and are really struggling to make ends meet, with no clarity about when they may be able to resume their careers.

"My heart goes out to them and I wanted to do something constructive to help.

"This swim has been on my bucket list for ages and I wouldn't have had the time to do it usually but have been off work myself.

"I had nothing left by the time I got to the end. I shot off for the first half but was really struggling after hurting my shoulder, which made the trombone playing extra difficult in the water.

"I was swimming against a current and going nowhere towards the end but then my kids appeared in a boat in the middle of the lake which was a great surprise.

"I saw my whole family cheering me at the end which I didn't expect too."

Helen said that she hopes this will encourage her students to remember to practice their wind instruments at home as they are not allowed to play them at school yet due to coronavirus restrictions.

She added: "I was asked right at the end if I would swim the channel next but I there's said no way I'm doing that!"