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A MELKSHAM lad has embarked on another epic swimming challenge, planning to swim the equivalent length of Loch Ness for the MS Society.
Last year local boy Ciaran Hanks, aged 11, raised more than £700 for Wiltshire Air Ambulance by swimming the width of the English Channel – 35.18km – over three months in local swimming pools.
For the finale of his challenge he was joined by Paralympic gold medal swimmer Stephanie Millward, who joined him in the pool for the final few lengths.
Inspired by Stephanie’s story, Ciaran has set himself another challenge. “This summer holiday, I will be starting a challenge to swim the length of Loch Ness, the equivalent of 36.33km, that’s 1,454 lengths of a 25m pool by Christmas Day,” said Ciaran. “Stephanie suffers with MS and is an ambassador for the MS Society. As a big thank you for the time and support she gave me I would like to swim this challenge to raise some funds for another great cause to help people like her, that face struggles every day.”
With many hours ahead of him in the pool, Ciaran doesn’t plan to swim alone and has decided to try and combine his other sporting passion, football, to help him with his challenge.
“Ciaran has played for Melksham Town since the earliest opportunity and will join the U12s Harriers in September,” said Ciaran’s mum Caroline Hanks.
“Last season he became more and more interested in following the first team and started attending all home matches and travelled to some of the away games. He also went to see MTFC win the Les Phillips Cup in Street where he was a mascot.
“He loves the atmosphere at the games and being part of the black and yellow family.
“As he is there cheering on his local team, the players have really got to know him, especially as he’s there to give them high fives coming on and going off the pitch. He has also built up a great rapport with Kieran Baggs, the first team manager, often entering into post match chats with him through social media.
“Ciaran was at the first match of the season at Oakfields against Cadbury Heath with his dad when he thought about asking a few people if they would support or sponsor him.
“When they got home he asked Kieran during his ‘post-match chat’ and Kieran told him to get it out on Twitter, so his dad tweeted the club and a couple of players, cheekily asking if they would swim with Ciaran too, and amazingly they came back saying that yes, they will sponsor him and swim with him!
“Ciaran made a little video to say thank you and now most of the team, including the chairman, Darren Perrin, have agreed to join him in the pool. The response has blown us away. There has been so much kindness shown to Ciaran.”
You can follow Ciaran’s progress in the pool on his Facebook page: www.facebook.com/CiaransLochNess Adventure/. To donate, visit www. justgiving.com/fundraising/lochness adventure
Above: Ciaran with Stephanie Millward last year at the end of his English Channel challenge.