St Albans Dean’s driver dived in for Channel swimming challenge

Swimmer Andrew Butcher

Swimmer Andrew Butcher - Credit: Archant

Driving the Dean of St Albans around has made Andrew Butcher an expert on swimming pools around the country thanks to a charity challenge.

For the Westminster Lodge member and self-confessed swimming addict has gone over and beyond what was required to complete the Aspire Channel Swim to raise funds for the spinal injuries charity.

The challenge, which ended earlier this month, required participants to cover the virtual distance of the English Channel over a 12-week period. But Andrew completed the swim in one direction with time to spare so he started swimming the return journey from Calais to Dover.

And he was helped by an ingenious way of incorporating swimming sessions while acting as a volunteer driver for the Dean, Dr Jeffrey John.

He would drop the Dean at his appointment and then find the nearest pool to continue with his charity swim while waiting to drive him home.

In total, Andrew swum in 45 pools from Portsmouth to Leicester and “everywhere in between”, and completed 44 miles. In the course of his challenge he swum in more pools than any of the other 4500 people taking part.

Andrew said: “I really enjoyed the challenge. As word spread of my quest I would drive to one of the Dean’s appointments and a member of the clergy would be there to tell me where the nearest pool was.

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“It seemed that news of my task had preceded me and everyone knew what I was trying to do. Of all the pools that I swam in only one place comes even close to the wonderful complex we have at Westminster Lodge and that is in Norwich. But it’s still not quite up to the standard we are lucky enough to have.”

Lesley Garner, manager of Westminster Lodge, said: “We were very pleased to support the event. Andrew not only swam a gargantuan distance himself but he galvanised many more people to take part in the event.

“We are currently the fifth biggest fundraising pool in the country. We are really proud to be doing so much for spinal cord injury.”

Andrew has raised £230 and the combined total raised by Westminster Lodge swimmers is £2,524.

To get involved in the challenge next year or to make a donation to Andrew, click here or call 0800 0370 880.