Swimmer's family 'upset' by hoax
The family of tragic cross-Channel swimmer Susan Taylor have said they are "disappointed and upset" after a six-figure donation for the fundraiser's charity efforts turned out to be a hoax.
Mrs Taylor, 34, collapsed just one mile from the French coast as she swam under the guidance of the Channel Swimming Association, which officially authorises attempts, on Sunday July 14.
She was pulled from the water and on to a support boat by her brother David, a paramedic, who battled to save her life before she was taken to hospital in nearby Boulogne-sur-Mer, where she was later pronounced dead.
Her death prompted thousands of people to donate to Mrs Taylor's two fundraising pages, in support of Rainbows Hospice for Children and Young People and Diabetes UK.
However, it has now emerged one donation to Rainbows, of £150,000, was a fake - something the charity described as an "appalling act at such a tragic and emotional time". It is believed a similar hoax pledge was also made to Diabetes UK.
In a statement, Mrs Taylor's family said: "The family were obviously delighted when news of a donation pledge of £300,000 to the two charities was announced. Unfortunately, it would appear that this pledge was bogus since the funds have failed to materialise in the charities' accounts.
"(We) are disappointed and upset that an individual has taken actions which have misled the family and Susan's chosen charities in this way.
"The family wish to emphasise that they are extremely grateful for the support of members of the public and the generosity they have shown in supporting Susan's legacy. We do not intend to allow the actions of one person to detract from what Susan has accomplished and the pride we feel for her."
Legitimate donations to Mrs Taylor's fundraising pages - at http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/createaripple - have soared to more than £70,000 in the days since her death.
Geoff Ellis, chief executive at the Rainbows charity, condemned the hoax donations. He said: "We are shocked that a person would carry out this appalling act at such a tragic and emotional time."