Bury St Edmunds paramedics take the plunge

Paramedics Carl Friar, Mark Ransom, Tia Whiteman and Ria Delves are taking on the English Channel for charity
Paramedics Carl Friar, Mark Ransom, Tia Whiteman and Ria Delves are taking on the English Channel for charity

West Suffolk paramedics based in Bury St Edmunds are taking on the English Channel to raise money for ambulance charities this summer.

The East and West Channel Swim Challenge will start near Dover between June 30 and July 8 dependant on the weather.

The charities benefiting include The Ambulance Staff Charity, which supports past and present ambulance staff and their families in times of need and the Ambulance Wish Foundation UK which helps fulfil the last wishes of terminally-ill patients.

Two teams are taking on the challenge, one led by main organiser Mark Ransom who will represent West Suffolk paramedics and the other captained by Carl Friar whose team are from East Suffolk paramedics in Ipswich.

Both teams will try to complete the 21 mile crossing with each swimmer having to spend an hour in the water at a time and maybe having to do it twice.

Mr Ransom, 47, knows what is in store for his fellow colleagues having swam the Channel on his own in 2008.

He said: “It was an ambition I had had since I was a kid.

“I used to be a competitive swimmer and when I was 10 I met Mike Read who then held the world record for the most amount of Channel swims at an awards ceremony.

“I eventually got to swim it when I was 38. Ever since then it was in my mind to organise a Channel relay swim.”

The father-of-three who lives in Bury St Edmunds completed his last swim in 12 hours 23 minutes and has been pushing his team hard.

He said: “Throughout the winter we have been training in the pool but we are now training in the sea.

“There are strict rules about swimming the Channel so each swimmer taking part has to first do a two hour qualifying swim in open water in temperatures of less than 16 degrees and without wearing a wetsuit.”

Each team will have a support boat with them where they can rest between their swims.

Also on hand will be a lifeguard and an oceanographer.

The youngest swimmer doing the challenge is 24 while the oldest is Mr Friar, the 51-year-old East Suffolk captain.

Follow their progress on Facebook at www.facebook.com/#!/paramedicchannelswim.

To donate, visit www.virginmoneygiving.com/team/paramedicchannelswim.