This Girl Can: Sunderland swimmer nominated for Best of Wearside award

A Sunderland swimmer who inspired women to get into fitness has been given a Best of Wearside Awards nomination.

Thursday, 24th January 2019, 5:00 am
Updated Thursday, 24th January 2019, 11:33 am
Gill Dando appears in the This Girl Can video after filmmakers visited Roker to find women to star in the campaign.
Gill Dando appears in the This Girl Can video after filmmakers visited Roker to find women to star in the campaign.

But modest Gill Dando played down her role and said: “I don’t really feel like I have done anything to deserve it.”

Yet Gill is the one who appeared in the new video for the This Girl Can campaign, which is the Sport England project to promote sport among women.

Gill Dando stars in the This Girl Can video after she auditioned when a crew visited Fausto cafe in Roker.

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Gill swims in the sea off Roker as part of the swimming club based at Fausto cafe, on Marine Walk.

The business has a sports and social club which hosts language classes, yoga sessions, bike rides, runs and swims on Thursday nights and Sunday mornings.

She was coaxed into auditioning by fellow swimmers when film makers visited Fausto cafe.

Her achievement prompted others to take up exercise for the first time.

Gill Dando, post swim, on Roker's seafront.

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Yet Gill was still amazed to be in the running for an award and said: “Just to be nominated is enough.”

She admitted she had ‘always been quite outdoors-y’ and was the type of person who would love to go off on her own for a walk, or for a swim in a lake or river.

But she added: “At school, I was the last person to be able to swim. I was frightened and scared. I was also the least likely person ever to wade into the sea.”

Then, after expert advice from a nutritional therapist, she grabbed the chance to ‘try lots of new things and held myself accountable to those’.

As well as sea swimming, she has also tackled a mini triathlon and said: “It is the whole mindset philosophy. It really resets your brain.”

This year’s Best of Wearside Awards has backing from headline sponsor BGL Group, partner sponsor Gentoo and category sponsors Stagecoach and Calsonic Kansei.

We thank them all for getting on board, and now comes your turn to get involved.

Send your name, address and telephone number, as well as your email address, if applicable.

Remember to include the category you are putting your nominated cause into. Also, send the name of the person you wish to nominate, along with their address, telephone number and email (if known). Send all of that to Lynn Wild before March 1.

You can nominate in any one of three ways:

•Email those entries to [email protected].

•Send them to Lynn Wild, Alexander House, Second Floor, Rainton Bridge Business Park, Houghton-le-Spring, Sunderland. DH4 5RA.

•Visit the website at

Once we pass the competition deadline, the panel of judges will meet days later to draw up this year’s shortlist of contenders.

Those who are still in the running will learn their fate at the glittering grand finale on Thursday, March 28.

That will be held at the Stadium of Light in Sunderland.

After the event, we’ll bring you a supplement with photographs and interviews from the night.

But for now, the main thing is to get those entries in!

The categories

Local Hero.

Green Champion.

Student of the Year.

Fundraiser of the Year.

Volunteer of the Year.

Sporting Achievement.

Community Group.

Community Champion.

Child of Achievement.

Child of Courage.