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Channel swim inspired by mum’s cancer battle

PUBLISHED: 16:47 02 October 2015 | UPDATED: 14:54 05 October 2015

The team just after they finished. Left to right: Leo (Ben's brother who cheered them on from the boat), Sam, Ricky, Ben and Ben'’s mum Karen, who also cheered them on

The team just after they finished. Left to right: Leo (Ben's brother who cheered them on from the boat), Sam, Ricky, Ben and Ben'’s mum Karen, who also cheered them on

Archant

A mum who has battled with cancer for two decades inspired her son and his friends to take the plunge for charity.

Ben discovered his love of outdoor swimming thanks to his mum. Picture, 1995Ben discovered his love of outdoor swimming thanks to his mum. Picture, 1995

Ben Alden-Falconer, 26, braved icy temperatures and a sea of jellyfish to cross the English Channel and raise money for Hammersmith Hospital, where mum Karen, who is in her 50s, received bone marrow treatement for leukaemia.

“It is testament to the staff’s care, my mum’s determination and her brilliant donor – her brother – that she is still around today,” said Ben, who lives with his mum in Middleton Road, London Fields.

“Mum has had almost every treatment in the book and we have been lucky that medical science has so far always advanced at each stage she needs more treatment and that she has had access to these drugs.”

Ben, a management consultant, undertook the challenge with friends Richard Martin, 26, and Sam Zawadzki, 25 – all without wetsuits.

The bold swimmers set out in the black of night at 2am on September 20, and finished an impressive 13 hours and 14 minutes later.

“When the sun started to rise we were well out to sea, it made a beautiful red sky, but it also encouraged the jelly fish to surface,” said Ben, who was cheered on by brother Leo.

“There were thousands and thousands, you couldn’t avoid them – you just had to keep swimming through them, getting stung all over.”

The intrepid trio battled through seasickness and exhaustion, following training which involved weekend trips to Dover, and swimming at night with industrial glow sticks lodged behind their goggles.

“Mum is very pleased we are fundraising,” said Ben, a Cambridge graduate.

“She is the reason I love outdoor swimming. We used to go up to Parliament Hill Lido almost every day as a kid, even on Christmas Day.”

The epic swim raised more than £5,000 towards the haematology department at Hammersmith Hospital, through Imperial College Healthcare Charity.

To sponsor the team, visit https://www.justgiving.com/Hop-the-channel/


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