Torridge grandmother swims the channel for charity

Joseph Bulmer

IT was fourth time lucky for Torridge businesswoman Carol Duncan when she and friends on Friday finally completed a cross-channel relay charity swim.

Carol, 61, of Stapleton Farm Yoghurts, Langtree, had been trying with professional photographer Debbie Rowe from London and four other friends to complete a channel swim since 2006, but everything, it seemed, had conspired against them.

The first team assembled were hit by the weather and had to abandon the attempt. The second time a team member suffered illness in the water and a strong current ended attempt number three when they were in danger of being swept down the French coast into a restricted area.

But they still raised �9,500 for a number of charities, the main ones being Cancer Research and Future Hope – a children’s orphanage in Calcutta.

“Debbie had been working out there and seen the orphanage and she had been overwhelmed by it and wanted to help,” said Carol. “We raised the money, but had not finished the challenge and felt we must do so.”

So they perservered, again and again and again, until finally it has now paid off.

This time Carol, the senior member of the team, and Debbie were joined by their ‘four strong men’ - Tullio Salvatori, Jim Boucher, a solo channel swimmer, and Richard Chattergi from London, and Kevin Maloney, a Birmingham jeweller, each taking hour-long turns in the water.

They finished their challenge in 14 hours and 57 minutes.

“I feel so very pleased,” said Carol. “It was so beautiful to do, in absolutely perfect weather. We started at midnight and swam through the night. I was ‘attacked’ by garfish, which are apparently attracted by the light and were flipping all around and bumping into me. Another member of the team was stung by jellyfish and there was a moment when we were struck by large bow waves from a ship.

But we all took to the water together for the arrival in France to be greeted by a reception committee. We were mobbed by French holidaymakers as we reached the beach.”

The successful swimmers are hoping this time to top �10,000 and have chosen cancer research and the RNLI as their charities.

If anyone wishes to help with sponsorship they can do so by going to and