MORE than 200 people welcomed a weary but jubilant fundraiser back to dry land.

Heleneia Brierley, 67, completed her Colostomy Swim for Life challenge, despite being in pain throughout.

She left Essex Marina, at Wallasea, in the Rochford district, arriving at the Royal Corinthian Yacht Club, in Burnham, in two hours and 40 minutes.

Mrs Brierley, who lives in Burnham, was in the water slightly longer than expected as she became trapped in the tide, which pushed her away from her destination and almost out to sea.

Despite this, she was determined to complete the two-mile challenge - the equivalent of nearly 70 lengths of a large swimming pool.

She said: "I've never felt so scared in all my life. I was exhausted and cold at the end, but so proud and elated I executed a promise I had made.

"There was a time when I wanted to give up but something made me carry on. I said I wanted to go for gold and God gave me gold.

"I would like to thank everyone for their support."

Her partner, Peter Pollard, was with her all the way in one of three escort boats that accompanied her.

He admitted: "I was worried but she was determined to do it. She was asked if she wanted to be pulled out, but she kept saying no."

Money raised from the Colostomy Swim for Life will be donated to Moat Housing Group, and both motor neurone disease and bowel cancer services at Broomfield Hospital in Chelmsford.

Heleneia survived maximum doses of chemo-therapy, radiotherapy and a heart attack after she was diagnosed with bowel cancer, in 2000.

After overcoming the disease she embarked on a mission to raise money for a number of charities.