‘Tears shed’ after family’s incredible effort to swim the English Channel from Dover raises money for refugees

A family has taken up a cold swim challenge across the English Channel to support a charity helping young refugees and asylum seekers arriving in the UK. Daisy, 22, Ned, 19 and Mabel, 17, and their father Paul Naisbitt, 58, began their epic journey on Tuesday morning in honor of their grandfather Roy.

Paul, from Broadstairs, was the first to enter the water at 4.20am on June 7 after meeting Reg and Ray Brickell, skippers of the Viking Princess II, an official Channel swim support boat in the new Dover marina. The team took turns swimming for an hour each, making slow progress on the busiest shipping lane in the world.

“We live on the coast,” Daisy said. “We know people make this dangerous crossing all the time and we wanted to show them our support. A lot of people who are crossing are my age and I like the idea that I am supporting other young people as they make a new life here. We chose KRAN (Kent Refugee Action Network) because it’s a local charity and we like the idea that the money we raise will make a difference locally.

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Their grandfather Roy, who died last year aged 90, was in contact with Reg Brickell as he attempted three solo swims in the English Channel in his 60s and 60s, before finally succeeding in a relay team. Reg told the family he had a slot left in early June if they wanted to attempt a stint.

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The family decided the challenge would be a great way to honor Roy’s memory. After a 14 hour and 22 minute effort by the team, Mabel landed on the French coast at Strouanne beach, near Escalles at 6.42pm.

Paul said the weather turned in their favor at the end, adding “after having cloudy and cold conditions all the way, the sun came out for the last four hours and that really helped us put in a great finish. “

The family then returned to Dover aboard the Viking Princess to be greeted by representatives of the charity who were able to tell them that they had significantly increased their fundraising total throughout the day, smashing their initial goal of £2,000 by raising almost £7,000.

Bridget Chapman, Head of Media for KRAN, said: “This is an incredible effort on the part of the Naisbitt family and we are extremely grateful to them for choosing us and for all the work they have put into this momentous achievement. They are local heroes who are a shining example of the warmth, kindness and generosity we feel every day from the community of Kent.

“We were all glued to the trackers following their progress and when we found out they had succeeded, a few tears flowed! It’s so inspiring.

“We couldn’t do the work we do supporting young refugees in Kent without fundraising efforts like this. And I encourage anyone with a fundraising idea to contact us through our website so we can provide them with the support they need.