A hospital lab assistant has raised £1,500 for charity after her sister was diagnosed with dementia last year.

Julia Peat, who works at King George hospital, Ilford, decided to take up the seven-week swimming challenge after her sister Helen Yule-Black was diagnosed with Picks disease, a rare and aggressive form of dementia last year, aged 49.

Julia undertook the challenge for Alzheimer’s Research UK as she had always enjoyed swimming with her sister, who can no longer communicate due to the disease.

The 56-year-old lab assistant, of Grange Road, Harold Hill, said: “We’re very close and used to go swimming together every week. She’s the swimmer in the family, she used to swim for Essex.

“I miss her now when I go swimming, as I can’t take her anymore, so I thought this was something I could do for her. The challenge also gave me something to aim for.”

Julia completed 18km over seven weeks, finishing earlier this month.

In her longest swim she clocked up 48 lengths. She completed most of the distance at her local pool at Central Park Leisure Centre in Harold Hill, she also did some in the pool at the Olympic Park.

Julia added: “I was chuffed to raise so much money, especially when I found out I was eighth on the leaderboard of 933 people taking part in the challenge across the country.

“Everyone has been really supportive, including all my colleagues. And while Helen doesn’t really communicate anymore, her husband and daughter are really proud of what I’m doing.”

Julia, who has worked for the Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust for 15 years, also raised £2,500, alongside family and friends, by taking part in a memory walk for Dementia UK last year.