Duo swim against tide to help injured soldiers

Share this article

IT took the best part of the summer to complete, but two determined swimmers swam from Kelso to Berwick to raise more than £6,000 for soldiers, writes Sally Gillespie.

Ghillie John Edey (‘Wee John’) and fisherman Alistair Smee start their 35-mile mission on June 16.

Mr Edey, of Sprouston, said: “Day one was hampered with heavy rain and energy-sapping cold river temperatures. We made it to Tillmouth, then the floods came and we postponed the final day three times until we got a weather window and low water.”

In fact they were almost hypothermic by the time they came out of the water the first day. The swimmers had then watched the weather each weekend hoping to finish their fundraiser until, finally, August 12 looked fair.

But a wind got up and as they progressed it was against the incoming tide, creating choppy waves.

Mr Edey said: “The final day was a hard push, battling against three to four-foot waves when we hit the wind and tide. We reached Berwick road bridge where the RNLI lifeboat escorted us the last mile to our destination and we were welcomed by a cheering crowd.”

He and Mr Smee had hoped to raise £5,000, but instead have gathered in £6,607 for Help for Heroes.

The challenging swim came about because Mr Edey, a ghillie for more than 30 years, was so inspired by the servicemen severely injured in the war in Afghanistan that he took fishing last year, that he wanted to raise money to help them and others. He thanked the swim support team of his son Andrew, ghillie Jonathan Mackereth, Tweed Wheely Boat Trust’s Bill Quarry, House of Hardy’s Ian Gordon, ghillie Bill Jack, and Tim Smee and family. And he added “a big thanks, too, to the RNLI crew who were a heartening and inspiring sight”.