Channel swim for Bel’s uncle

Craven Herald: SMILES: Former Embsay girl Bel Young with the Countess of Wessex when she visited Leeds Children's Hospital SMILES: Former Embsay girl Bel Young with the Countess of Wessex when she visited Leeds Children's Hospital

The uncle of paralysed former Embsay girl Bel Young is hoping to raise £50,000 by swimming the English Channel.

Nick Young, 43, of Rimington, is training 12 hours a week for the difficult challenge later this year.

The money he raises will buy a hydrotherapy pool for 12-year-old Bel, who suffered a severe spinal injury after falling from a climbing frame in 2010.

Four years on, Bel, now living in Harrogate, remains paralysed from the neck down, is confined to a wheelchair and is reliant for much of the time on a ventilator to breathe.

Despite her situation, Nick said Bel “never grumbles or feels sorry for herself”.

Nick, who is head of regional sales for Channel 5, based in Manchester, said Bel’s determination inspired him to start training for the swim a year ago.

“I went to see one of Bel’s hydrotherapy sessions at Skipton Swimming Pool,” he said. “She really needed to work her muscles and she was going through such a hard time.

“She inspired me to do something outside my comfort zone and there’s no better challenge than swimming the English Channel. To be successful will require an element of luck.”

At its shortest point, the channel crossing is 21 miles, but tides mean swimmers often have to cover many more. There are also high winds, big waves, jellyfish, seaweed and floating debris to contend with.

“No wetsuits can be worn and, at 15C, the cold water is part of the challenge,” added Nick. “Only 40 per cent of the swimmers who attempt the Channel actually complete it.”

Nick’s swim is scheduled for the first week in September but is dependent on weather and conditions at sea.

To make a donation, visit nickyoungchannel swim.com.

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