Swaffham minister swaps pulpit for pool in charity Channel challenge

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For many, swimming the English Channel is a once in a lifetime challenge.

But one Swaffham clergywoman has already covered the 22 mile distance 12 times and is now gearing up for swim number 13.

Rev Eleanor Reddington, has to use a mobility scooter to get around on dry land and wear a surgical support collar for her neck because of injuries sustained in two car crashes.

But, after completing the Aspire Channel Swim challenge for the first time in 2003, she has signed up every year since.

And, ahead of this year’s challenge, her efforts have so far raised a total of £17,000 for the charity.

She said: “Anyone can swim the channel. I went to my local pool and completed the 22 miles of the Aspire Channel Swim on lots of different days over a few months, but I got hooked and have signed up to do it each subsequent year.

“Swimming has been a great way to strengthen my muscles and exercise and if you’re going to do something, you have to do it properly.

“I’m now part of an outdoor swimming group, I crossed the actual English Channel in a relay team with Aspire in 2009, and I’m so proud that my injuries don’t stop me from helping other people – I just don’t kick much and all the power comes from my arms.”

“I always hoped my surgical white collar would set a new trend in the normal clerical collars, but it’s yet to catch on.”

Rev Reddington, who works at several Methodist churches including Swaffham’s, is now preparing for this year’s Aspire Channel Swim, which runs from September 12 until December 5.

Participants complete the distance in their local pools and funds raised go towards helping people paralysed by spinal cord injuries.

The charity offers grants for purchasing equipment such as lightweight wheelchairs, assistive technology to enable people to use computers regardless of the level of their injury, essential advice and accessible housing.

For more information about the challenge, or to sign up to take part, visit aspire
channelswim.co.uk.