Charity swimmers set to tackle the length of the English Channel for Tony Hopper's campaign

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The latest charity challenge in support of Tony Hopper will see a group of people swim the length of the English Channel today.

About 24 people will take part in the event at The Pools in Carlisle to raise money for the Motor Neurone Disease Association.

Between them, they will cover nearly 1,350 lengths - the equivalent of the 21-mile crossing between England and France.

It is the latest initiative launched in support of former footballer Tony, who is suffering from bulbar-onset MND.

And those organising the swim, which runs from 1-4pm, hope it will make a good contribution to the Hoppers' bid to raise further funds and awareness for the MND charity.

Wendy Young, one of the women behind the idea, said: "A group of us from Brampton Cottage Hospital just got together and decided we wanted to do this.

"We have known Sue from the time when she started working there, and we are good friends of Tony and the family.

"The plan is for everyone to swim a certain distance each, such as a mile, although if some do a bit less than that the rest of us can make the distance up so we do the equivalent of the Channel.

"It will be a big team effort."

Wendy said she and colleague Sharon Dowson got the idea from a previous charity swim in the Pools.

"It was a few years ago when we went down for a swim and we saw a man sitting at the side wearing a Great Ormond Street Hospital t-shirt," she said.

"We asked what they were up to and he explained that they were swimming the Channel to raise sponsorship funds.

"We jumped in and did a mile each for Great Ormond Street and collected sponsor money.

"We thought it was a good idea and so we decided to do something similar for Tony now."

Tony's eldest son, Daniel, is set to take part in the swim.

Wendy said she and her colleagues were keen to do something to support the Hopper family at such a difficult time.

"It upset us all greatly when we were told the news," she said. "We just had to do something to help."

Several thousand pounds have already been raised for Tony's fightback fund for the MND Association, which will help people affected by the life-limiting illness in north and west Cumbria, and which is being backed by the News & Star's Fighting Back for Tony campaign.

There will be bucket collections at the Pools this afternoon, while those taking part have sponsorship forms.

You can also donate to the fightback fund by visiting https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Tony-Hopper.

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city resident   , Carlisle Saturday, 29 April, 2017 at 2:31PM
Once again the Neswsand Star demonstrates wrong wording. If these people were swimmimg the "length" of the English Channel they would be swimming approx from Kent to Cornwall, when in fact they are swimmimg "across" the Channel which much shorter. However that error should not detract from the determination and achievement of those doing the swimming. Good luck to them all.
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