Thousands of fundraising events may have been cancelled due to the coronavirus crisis, but ex-Worcester Warrior Alex Grove remains determined to conquer the world’s busiest shipping lane for Acorns Children’s Hospice.
The retired sportsman is just a week away from beginning an ambitious bid to swim the English Channel having faced unprecedented challenges during training.
Lockdown meant the retired sportsman was unable to swim properly for 10 whole weeks, but the father-of-two is as committed as ever to completing the solo feat to raise vital funds for Acorns and its work caring for some of the most vulnerable children and families across Worcester and the West Midlands.
Alex said: “It’s been much tougher preparing for this challenge because of the pandemic and the restrictions that have been in place. There were 10 weeks where I didn’t swim at all. Trying to keep fit wasn’t too hard but running and cycling are very different from being in the water. But as soon as restrictions were eased, I was back in the water.
“Luckily, the borders are open again and they’re allowing swims to go ahead, which is great for Acorns as charities like this one have really struggled during the pandemic; in a time where there would have been lots of fundraising events, everything has been cancelled over the last few months.”
Alex, who is a familiar face at Acorns for the Three Counties based in Worcester, announced ambitious plans to swim the English Channel for the charity last December.
The challenge, which has raised a staggering £18,200 so far, will see him make the journey from Dover to Cap Gris Nez in France from August 1.
The 32-year-old smashed his six-hour qualifying swim and has been making daily trips to Dover.
He explained: “It’s a long way from Worcester but I couldn’t really afford to leave it any later. I was reluctant to push this swim back another 12 months. It’s just a case of getting it done and being as best prepared as possible.”
And the encouragement Alex has had from family, friends and supporters as well as the children and families who have inspired the challenge, will spur him on when the going gets tough.
The ex-Scotland international said: “I’ve been overwhelmed by the support I’ve had so far. The swim could take anywhere between 13 to 16 hours and that’s going to be really bleak at times. So having that backing is something I can draw upon when things get a bit ugly and the last thing I want to do is keep going.”
Mel Hall, Area Fundraiser for Acorns, said: “The commitment and determination Alex has shown in the face of so many unexpected challenges as he prepares for this incredible feat is nothing short of remarkable. He is a true inspiration.
“On behalf of everyone at Acorns, I’d like to say a huge thank you to Alex and wish him the best of luck. We’ll all be cheering him on as he swims to victory.”
Amid the current challenges facing the nation, Acorns is continuing to provide emergency and end of life hospice care as well as emotional and practical support to hundreds of families who are in strict isolation at home.
In March, the charity published its emergency response for Covid-19, prioritising care for the most vulnerable children and their families and setting aside its hospice in the Black Country for children from local hospitals with complex care needs to help acute trusts maximise their intensive care capability.
As well as this, the charity temporarily closed its hospice in Birmingham and offered the facility for use in the emergency response.
Acorns needs the support of the community and local businesses as much as ever as it continues to care for some of the region’s most vulnerable families and support the NHS.
To find out how you can stand with Acorns as it continues to care for some of the most vulnerable children and families in the community, please visit www.acorns.org.uk/together
To sponsor Alex for his English Channel swim visit his JustGiving page.
Find out how you can raise vital funds for Acorns
There are many ways you can support Acorns as we continue caring for some of the region’s most vulnerable children and families. From organising a fundraiser, to volunteering or making a one off donation, you can help us be there for every family that needs us.