In July 2013 Tony Bray, Scott Miles, Zippy Davies and Dave Pearce swam from Ryde to Portsmouth to raise funds and awareness for Motor Neurone Disease.
The idea had come to Tony as a personal challenge in July 2012 when, having worked away from home for a while, eating all the wrong stuff, he felt that he needed to get back into shape. Tony announced to all that would listen that he was going to swim the Solent – much to everyone’s amusement. However he trained hard, changed his diet and lost nearly 5 stone. During 2013 Tony picked up other swimmers and together the goal was achieved.
The event grew in 2014 when many others decided they would also like to take on what is now known as the “Ian Pratt MND Challenge”. Ian is someone Tony met through taking on the challenge in 2013 and is a truly inspirational person.
In 2015 37 swimmers completed the crossing, despite having to cancel twice due to bad weather. Since 2016 so many swimmers have wanted to undertake the challenge that the swims now take place over two days.
Since 2014 the swims have raised over £200,000 on behalf of people living with MND.
This is what the Queens Harbour Master says about the crossing:
“ Swimming across the Solent is not just another open water swim and should not be undertaken without considerable preparation. Whilst not as difficult as swimming across the English Channel, the cross Solent swimmer has to cross at least one busy shipping lane, negotiate around ferries and hovercraft travelling to and from the Isle of Wight and avoid all the many pleasure boats using the Solent. The currents produced by the tides are strong and complex and cannot be ignored”
The rushing waters in the sea
Bring forth an image not just to me.
Inspiration? It’s not just there,
Hearts are washed to make life fair. To swim the Solent is really tough
Currents and waves often rough
And more to face with excess shipping
Any thoughts of ease are always stripping.Each year we see brave people swim
Venturing forth in the Solent Gym
Accompanied by Kayakers for safety sake
And organisers such work they make. Why all this? It’s for Motor Neurone Disease!
Raising funds and awareness across the Sea Breeze.
Angels and Warriors, past and present
Are carried in wristbands in the swimming event.With every Pound raised we are finding a cure,
With every swim done life becomes pure
And all who take part or support this event
Are blessed by the Angels and Warriors still present.Philip G Bell
Written Sunday 4th October 2015
The above poem was written by Phillip just a few days before he passed away from MND. He was born 20th October 1948 and he died on 10th October 2015.