A heartbroken family braved the icy sea to raise money in memory of a courageous Hartlepool mum-of-two.
Melanie Brackstone was just 31 when she died in November after a 19-month battle against bowel cancer.
Devastated husband, Dan, and eldest daugher, Olivia, seven, along with seven family members and friends, decided to do the Boxing Day Dip at Seaton Carew to raise cash for the town’s hospice.
Melanie, who worked at the Belle Vue Community Centre, fought the illness, but the cancer spread and took her life.
Dan, 35, said the couple’s youngest daughter, Lucy, was just six months old when her mum was diagnosed with the cancer in spring 2015.
The pipe-fitter said it is extremely rare for someone as young as Melanie to get bowel cancer, it is usually found in elderly people.
The girls have learned a lot from their mam, they have been so brave and so strongDan Brackstone
He said: “Melanie was so strong, she fought tremendously hard.
“The girls have learned a lot from their mam, they have been so brave and so strong, they are the ones keeping me going.”
Daniel, who lives in Rossmere’s Beauly Grove, said it was a last minute decision to do the Boxing Day Dip, but Team Mel still managed to raise more than £1,100.
He said: “Melanie would be so proud that we are raising money in this way because of her.”
The heartbroken husband said they chose to raise money for Alice House Hospice where Melanie was cared for in her final days.
Daniel said: “Everyone in that hospice is amazing, I call them living angels. They are stunning people and I don’t know how they can do what they do every day.
“It is not just the patients they care for, it is the family as well. I can’t praise them enough, they are just wonderful.”
Daniel, who met Melanie nine years ago after being set up by his sister, said he has been overwhelmed by the love and support they have had throughout Melanie’s illness and since her death.
He said people have given him and his daughters so much support and helped them get through a very difficult Christmas.
Daniel said he hopes to do more fundraising in tribute to Melanie in the future, including for Miles for Men and Hartlepool hospital’s chemotherapy department, and is urging people to make donations to the hospice by visiting www.alicehousehospice.co.uk.