Charity hero (69) swims equivalent of English Channel

NHUD11-0300-2'Tom Twigger  shows off the �2030 cheque raised through a sponsored swim for Help for Heroes.
NHUD11-0300-2'Tom Twigger shows off the �2030 cheque raised through a sponsored swim for Help for Heroes.

PAPPLEWICK fundraising champion Tom Twigger has just completed his biggest challenge to date.

He has swum the English Channel — or, rather, the equivalent of it. His big swim took place in the Hucknall Leisure Centre pool on Linby Road.

Tom (69), of Grangemoor, accomplished the 22 miles in stretches totalling 12 hours over about a week.

His aim was to raise money for Aspire, a charity which specialises in helping people with spinal cord injuries.

“Without their support, these people would — on their release from hospital — spend the rest of their lives in care homes,” says Tom.

“With this help, they are given the aid they need to live in their own house and lead independent lives in the community in the best possible way for them.

“In effect, they get their own lives back.”

Tom is speaking from personal experience as he injured his spine in 1965 on a parachute drop while serving with the 7th Para Light Regiment, RHA.

In 1998 he underwent spinal rehabilitation at the Firs Hospital on Mansfield Road, Nottingham. This was mainly undertaken in the hospital’s heated swimming pool.

“I was told an operation was not possible for me because the science wasn’t there to weld ten vertibrae, while rodding that number was impracticable,” he said.

“My own experience gave me a mountain to climb. I did this and now want to help others facing the sort of problems I encountered.”

In a previous charity fundraising initiative two years ago, Tom achieved the magnificent total of £3,200. The recipient was Help For Heroes, which supports British servicemen and women injured in conflicts.

“I was overwhelmed by the generosity people showed and it gave me a feeling of humility,” said Tom. “The satisfaction of knowing you are doing something to help others is worth all the effort.” Tom’s financial target from his swim for Aspire is £1,000.

Despite his long-term chronic condition, Tom ran a business in Bulwell and has had a close involvement with Nottingham Northern Swimming Club, Papplewick and Linby and the former Bulwell Cricket Clubs, Bulwell’s former Red Lion Amateur Boxing Club and four football teams at Rise Park.

He has had a lot of support from his wife, Carol, his three children and his five grandchildren.