2nd Aug 2019

our helicopter landing

A team of 12 brave fundraisers representing all aspects of our service are moving from sky to sea as they take on the challenge of swimming across the English Channel.

During the week of 6th – 12th September our team will be given a day to swim the 21 miles between the UK and France, battling the elements to raise money so we can continue to deliver our life-saving work. The team of Channel swimmers is made up of our Doctors, Paramedics, Pilots, charity staff, medical students and one of our ex-patients, Vicky Lebrec.

Vicky was treated by our service after she was thrown from her bike by a lorry in 2014 while cycling to work. She was one of the world’s first survivors of pre-hospital REBOA, a technique pioneered by our medics and performed at the roadside by our team, including Paramedic Bill Leaning.

As a result of her injuries, doctors were sadly forced to amputate Vicky’s left leg. She has nevertheless made an outstanding recovery, has learned to walk again with the use of a prosthetic leg and returned to work. She will now face this extraordinary challenge side-by-side with Bill, as they push themselves to their physical and mental limits.

Our inspirational swimmers have been busy training, taking part in qualifying swims, and fundraising as they go.

Jonathan Jenkins, CEO of London’s Air Ambulance Charity said; 

“I am so proud of this incredible group of people for taking on the Channel to raise life-saving funds for our cause.  It won’t be easy, but I hope that everyone in London will get behind the team supporting their efforts and donating if they can, to help spur them on when things get difficult. 

"Funds raised by our channel swimmers will help ensure we can deliver our rapid response service, helping us be by the side of those who need us, every second of every day."

The two teams of six, headed up by pilot boats, will swim in relay, each swimming for a minimum of one hour then five hours off until they reach France. The length of the Channel is 21 miles but with tides and currents most swimmers are forced to follow an 'S' shaped path, which can add up to around 35 miles.

They must also abide by strict rules during the challenge. At no point can you touch anything that will aid you – grabbing on to a team mate or even holding on to a passing piece of driftwood counts as a disqualification.

The fastest swim on record is a little over seven hours and the longest nearly 27 hours. Along the way the team will have to contend with varying conditions - temperatures can fall as low as 14C, half that of the average swimming pool, wind force up to six and wave heights over two meters. The Channel is also one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world, with 600 tankers and 200 ferries passing through each day, meaning our swimmers will encounter passing ships as well as jellyfish and sharks.

The target fundraising amount is £25,000 and the team have done brilliantly, already raising almost £10,000. Every penny raised will go to London’s Air Ambulance Charity to deliver life-saving treatment to the 10 million people who live and work in London.

If you would like to donate to the team you can do so here.

Donate to the team