A young girl with leukaemia has inspired a marathon runner with a fear of deep water to take part in an open water swim.

Kirsty Hutchin, 39, from Gillingham in Dorset, says she felt “so hopeless” when she heard her friend’s nine-year-old daughter Torri was diagnosed with the condition.

Ms Hutchin, who ran the London Marathon in 2018, is a member of a team taking part in the Children with Cancer UK Swim Serpentine event in London on Saturday to raise money for the charity.

Looking back on the moment she heard about Torri, Ms Hutchin said: “I can just remember that day.

Team Torri (London Marathon Events/PA)

“She’s not my daughter but she might as well be because we’re all so close, like one big family.”

Ms Hutchin says she “just started crying” when she heard the news.

Torri had not been feeling well for a few days before her mother took her for a blood test.

“We thought it may have been low iron or something close,” Ms Hutchin said, adding: “No one had expected this.”

It was later revealed to family that Torri was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, a type of blood cancer that starts from young white blood cells.

She is “still having a huge concoction of treatments” including chemotherapy, lumbar punctures and bone marrow tests, Ms Hutchin said, and had spent a lot of time in isolation.

When asked what motivated her to take part in the swim, Ms Hutchin said: “I just had to do something to help.”

She described standing in a hospital hallway reading the posters and leaflets pinned on boards and thinking “we have to do something”.

Both Ms Hutchin and Torri’s mother Nathalie created “Team Torri” which will be represented at the swim for Children with Cancer UK.

The team, which consists of Torri’s aunt, uncles and Nathalie’s friends, will be swimming on Saturday in the Serpentine in Hyde Park.

The swim was organised by London Marathon Events Ltd and the day will feature swimming opportunities over a range of distances, including a half mile, one mile, two miles and six miles. There will also be a free Wellness Festival in Hyde Park.

Ms Hutchin admitted that she was “absolutely terrified” about Saturday because of her fear of deep water, but added she was focused on why she was doing it and supporting Nathalie and Torri.