NOEL Pine has swam from Dover to Calais and even started the return journey all without leaving a swimming pool.
In the process, he has raised more than £1,350 for a national charity providing practical help to people paralysed by spinal cord injury.
Noel, 56, a social worker by trade, was a regular visitor to Saddleworth Pool in Uppermill during his bid to swim the first 22 miles – the equivalent of a Channel crossing at its shortest point.
He continued the return journey while on holiday overseas.
Now working in the North West charity and volunteer sector, Noel swam around one mile (64 lengths) on each visit to Saddleworth Pool since starting his quest in October.
He is one of thousands tackling the Aspire challenge throughout the UK. Having set himself a target to raise £250, Noel’s total when the Independent went to press was £1,353, placing himself second on the nationwide fundraising leader board.
“I first did the challenge last year following the outcome of a relatively minor heart issue,” explained Noel.
“That gave me a positive focus so this year I wanted to take it a bit further on behalf of Aspire.
“I have been amazed and humbled though by the generosity and support of staff and users at Saddleworth Pool.
“I want to publicly thank everyone who has helped me raise over the thousand pounds and also to recognise the work of Bob Storey who has selflessly taken on the role of fundraiser-in-chief.”
Noel describes Bob, who also lives in Greenfield and is a former sub postmaster at Dobcross, as “my mentor, coach and money raiser”.
“Since I started I have now swam more than 25 miles,” he added.
“I will keep swimming until December 3 when the challenge ends.
“I hope to get back to Dover metaphorically speaking so my personal challenge remains.
“A spinal injury can happen to anyone at any time, and no one is prepared for how it will change their life. Aspire exists because there is currently no cure.”
Bob said: “Saddleworth Pool and Gym have really supported Noel.
“But we are hoping to get him still further up the leader board.
“If anyone would like to donate then please visit the Aspire website: www.aspirechannelswim.co.uk”