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University graduates swim Channel for Bowel Cancer UK in memory of late friends

University of Gloucestershire graduates Gail Taylor and Teresa Hogsbjerg have swum the Channel in memory of two of their best friends, raising thousands of pounds for Bowel Cancer UK.

Gail and Teresa lost one of their close university friends, Claire Stinchcombe, aged 30, to bowel cancer, then soon after that another of Gail’s closest friends, Natalie Thomson-Humphris, died from the disease at the age of 31.

Friends for more than 20 years, after meeting while playing women’s rugby at the University, Gail and Teresa decided they would swim the Channel together in memory of their late friends.

They were accompanied by the crew of a small fishing boat who were tasked with navigating them safely across the channel, which is considered the world’s busiest shipping lane.

With each swimming for one hour and then letting the other take over, Gail and Teresa reached the shores of France just over 15 hours after setting off from Dover – raising nearly £9,000 for Bowel Cancer UK so far in the process.

Following the epic swim, Communications and Media graduate Gail, who lives in Bedfordshire, said: “There was nothing in our heads other than getting to the other side. We always knew we would, because we could not let each other down.

“The friendship we have had over 21 years has taught us many things and this latest adventure taught us that anything is possible and that teamwork makes the dream work.

“The memories of our friends who lost their lives to bowel cancer came into our thoughts many times on our journey across.”

Encountering numerous jelly fish along the way, Gail and Teresa had to swim without wet suits and through the night to ensure their swim was officially recorded by an official from the Channel Swimming Association.

Teresa, who graduated with a degree in Human Geography and lives in Surrey, said: “This experience has been something we will never forget. We’ve spent years training for it whilst managing our personal and professional lives to make this possible.

“We are so grateful to all those who have sponsored us and supported us in any way and helped to raise awareness about bowel cancer.”

Top image: left to right, Teresa Hogsbjerg and Gail Taylor after swimming the Channel in aid of Bowel Cancer UK