Electrician, Graham Walton, 43, from Consett is taking on one of the world’s hardest challenges, swimming the Channel, all in aid of Bright Red.
Graham took up open water swimming 10 years ago, and swimming the channel has been on his bucket list ever since. With a 2/3 year waiting list he’s been preparing for the event for a long time, and will finally take on the challenge over the August bank holiday weekend.
Graham 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 21 miles, but it could be longer than that depending on the current. When I set off I’ll be in the water for between 11 and 14 hours, and can’t get out.”
Graham will have his own support team on hand throughout the event, but there are restrictions as to what they are allowed to do.
Graham explains “My team will be on hand throughout the whole event – some will get in the water and swim alongside me for spells to help keep me company, others will be preparing food and drinks so I can refuel! I am only allowed one support swimmer for one hour out of every three, so the support swimmer will swim with me for an hour but then I’ll be alone for the next two before he’s allowed back in.
You’re not allowed to hold on to the boat so they have to pass food down in a net! It’s a real team effort, and I’m very blessed with my team. I’m bringing four friends along with me, Jim bridges, Tony Rutter, Gary Clough, and Iain Ross. The swim isn’t really a place for family, as they’ll be too concerned about my wellbeing. They’ve been incredibly supportive as it’s really taken over my life, I couldn’t do it without them.
Graham is funding the whole cost of the challenge himself – this can be anywhere between £3,000-£4,000 – and decided to fundraise for regional blood cancer charity Bright Red.
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 so important.”
Charity Manager Ashley Elliott 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.”
You can sponsor Graham via his JustGiving page : https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Graham-Walton1