Apr 23, 2017

We spoke with Donald Lugg from Whitstable in Kent who, at 85 years old, explains how he managed to raise a whopping £2600 in last year’s challenge, becoming one of the top fundraisers for the 2016 Aspire Channel Swim!

Have you ever taken part in the swim before?

2016 was my first year completing the Aspire Channel Swim. I saw an advert for the event in my local swimming pool and thought it was a great opportunity for me to do some exercise and raise money at the same time for a wonderful cause. 

What made you want to take part in the challenge this year?

In 2008, I was diagnosed with two severe wedge fractures in my spine, which hugely affected my walking and confidence. One year later, I spoke with my consultant, who suggested I begin water walking. Although I couldn’t swim on my front, I began swimming on my back – 10 lengths every morning in the local 33 metre pool. Whilst in the changing rooms, I saw the advert for the Aspire Channel Swim and, after researching more about the charity, I decided it was the perfect way to help change the lives of those affected by other spinal cord injuries. 

What’s your secret to raising so much money?

If you don’t ask, you don’t get. Luckily, I’m part of a large community too, and found this helped me greatly. I’m a retired vicar at my local church, so have a lot of connections there, I’m also part of Whitstable Oyster Singers and a Chaplain to the police and ambulance service, but my family and friends have also helped to contribute in a large way too. I found that once I explained what Aspire do, people were really generous. After all, if it’s for a worthy cause, why wouldn’t you want to try and help?

How long did it take you to complete the challenge?

It took me around 44 days to fully complete. I started out doing 20 lengths a day and before I knew it, I was hitting ½ a mile each morning – it was very rewarding! 

How did you manage to stay focused?

Well, I strongly believe that if you’ve said you’re going to do something, then you’ve got to do it! Every time I stepped into the pool, I became even more determined to finish it. I also found that my time in the pool was a great opportunity to reflect, and I would often spend my time praying whilst I swam. 

Is there any advice that you’d give to those raising money?

The hardest part of fundraising is actually collecting the money, but don’t worry about reminding your friends and family, after all they offered to sponsor you in the first place. 

And, finally I’d say just go for it! Don’t say you’re too old, but at the same time don’t say you’re too young either. I’m so proud to say, that at 85 years of age, I swam 22 miles in 44 days and that’s pretty impressive if you ask me!