Grandad’s epic swim to raise �1m

A Knebworth grandfather is taking on an epic first – swimming from the Thames to France to raise a �1million for charity.

Andy Nation of Deards End Lane, is planning the mammoth swim from Teddington in London to Calais next year in aid of Herts Multiple Sclerosis Therapy Centre and Herts Air Ambulance.

His route will take him 147 miles, through the heart of the capital, around the Kent coast and across the channel, a journey he hopes to complete in 12 days.

No stranger to long-distance swimming, his attempt in June 2012, two weeks before the London Olympics, follows a record-breaking 14-day swim of the non-tidal stretch of the Thames in 2005 – the equivalent of seven consecutive cross-channel swims.

The 61-year-old said: “The last time I did the Thames swim, someone said ‘why didn’t you carry on all the way to France!’ So I decided to take that on - it’s a personal challenge.”

Andy is in training by swimming a mile a day at Odyssey Health Club in Knebworth in preparation for what he thinks will be his hardest challenge yet both physically and in terms of his fundraising goal.

“It’s hard work. I wish there was an extra 24 hours in a day. There will be many issues along the way and that’s why I have a good team to support me.” But he added: “It’s all good fun - age is only a number, you’re as young as you feel.”

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The father of three and grandfather of two aims to hit his �1m target through a novel autograph book. He is collecting the signatures of actors, politicians, sports stars, artists and celebrities and is offering schools, business and residents the chance to also sign the book for a �1,000 donation.

“There’s Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, Sir David Attenborough, Desmond Tutu. I got Keira Knightly’s autograph just yesterday. Any organisations, women’s institutions, companies, schools can get their names in for �1,000 pounds. If you have 1,000 children in a school that’s not difficult.”

The book will be sold at a black tie dinner after the swim along with an auction of celebrities’ donations.

To support the two charities and help Andy achieve his aim go to