A Horsell woman who swam in icy water in memory of her murdered step-sister and step-niece hopes her domestic violence awareness campaign will bring hope and empowerment to victims.

Jodie Finch completed her Break the Ice, Break the Silence open water swim to highlight charities that can offer women advice if they are in a situation they aren’t sure how to leave.

Jodie became a campaigner after the horrific murders of her step-sister Laura Mortimer and Laura’s daughter Ella Dalby, 11, by Laura’s abusive husband who stabbed them.

The murders happened at Laura’s home in Gloucester in May 2018. Her husband was jailed for life and ordered to serve at least 29 years in prison. He was told by the judge: “Your wanton savagery has blighted the lives of many forever”.

Bristol Crown Court was told that there was a history of domestic violence including Laura telling friends she had asked for a divorce after her husband had an affair and that he “went for her” punching a hole in a wall and telling her: “That was meant for your face.”

Laura had also ran to a neighbour’s house in a hysterical state saying that her husband had hit her and he shouted that one of Laura’s friends and her family should “watch their backs”.

Years earlier, he had been sentenced to nine months in prison, suspended for two years, for assault, battery and criminal damage on a previous partner and her mother.

Jodie trained as a trauma practitioner, a hypnotherapist and psychotherapist and works with RSASS (Rape & Sexual Abuse Support Service South Buckinghamshire).

She completed her swim, with her friend Rhian Coward, a pilates teacher who lives in St John’s, at QuaySwim in Mytchett.

Jodie described the experience as “exhilarating”. She said: “It was 6.5 degrees – absolutely freezing!”

Jodie and Rhian had done a trial swim the previous week and so knew what to expect.

“For the campaign swim, we got in the water at 6.30, with the sun coming up. There were a lot of people there. Some saw my banner and the one for the Hollie Gazzard Trust and chatted about the campaign,” Jodie said.

She also said she wants to break the taboo on talking about domestic violence and for women to get the help they need. “A lot of women have contacted me on social media and in person to say they are going through terrible situations or have in the past.”

Jodie and Rhian followed all the cold water safety guidelines, including learning correct breathing and staying in the water for no more than 10 minutes for the first swim.

Jodie said: You experience a sense of euphoria and almost don’t feel the cold so much. When you get out, you get really cold and have to spend 20 minutes in front of a fire and having a hot drink.”

Jodie says she will continue her campaign with other feats, such as parachute jumping adding: “It’s my dream is to keep going and encourage people who need help or recovery.”