A Consett electrician is preparing to swim the English Channel in aid of the blood cancer charity Bright Red. Graham Walton, who has been practising open-water swimming for the last ten years, plans to make his attempt over the August bank holiday weekend.
The forty-three-year-old said, “I have wanted to do this for such a long time. I’ve been a support swimmer for one of my friends in the past so I know how hard this is going to be. I have a three-day window to try it. The shortest distance is twenty-one miles, but it could be longer than that depending on the current. When I set off I’ll be in the water between eleven and fourteen hours and can’t get out.”
Graham will be accompanied by a support team in a boat, but there are strict rules about how much they can help him. They are permitted to swim alongside him to keep him company, but can only do so for one hour out of every three. They are allowed to pass him food and drinks, but – because Graham cannot hang onto the side of the boat – these refreshments have to be passed down to him in a net. Graham said, “It’s a real team effort and I’m very blessed with my team – I’m bringing four friends along with me.”
Despite its hardships, Graham is looking forward to his challenge and has been training for it with ten-hour-long sessions in Lake Buttermere, Cumbria. Graham said, “I wanted to take the opportunity to raise funds for a local charity. Bright Red is so well supported in my area as blood cancers have touched so many people. I know it’s given financial support to patients who are really struggling so I’m glad that all my efforts are going towards something really important.”
…I’ll be in the water between eleven and fourteen hours and can’t get out
Bright Red has supported blood cancer treatment and research in the north of England since 1988. They have spent five million pounds on combatting the disease. Their aim is “to make the north east the safest place in the UK, if not the world, to be treated for blood cancer.”
Commenting on Graham’s swim, Charity Manager Ashley Elliot said, “We are immensely grateful to Graham for thinking of Bright Red. This is quite a challenge, and everyone at Bright Red is behind him all the way.”
If you would like to sponsor Graham, you can go to http://justgiving.com/fundraising/Graham-Walton1