Newport record breaking swimmer needs your vote to secure national award

PUBLISHED: 12:06 29 January 2016 | UPDATED: 17:21 29 January 2016

Stephen White on the boat during the channel swim. Pic BLESMA

Stephen White on the boat during the channel swim. Pic BLESMA

Archant

A Newport man who achieved a World Record by swimming the channel with three other ex-military amputees has been nominated for a national award.

Stephen White (left) with the BLESMA channel swim team that has been nominated for a national award. Pic BLESMAStephen White (left) with the BLESMA channel swim team that has been nominated for a national award. Pic BLESMA

Stephen White, 50, of London Road, was part of the four-man relay team that swam the channel in September 2014 for BLESMA, the military charity which helps limbless servicemen and women.

Now the team and BLESMA have been nominated for a Soldiering On People’s Choice Award, with the winner being announced at a dinner on April 22 in central London.

The awards dinner will be hosted by Radio 2 host Jeremy Vine and people can vote online now at www.soldieringon.org until midnight on April 8.

Stephen, who served the Royal Green Jackets in the army for three years from 1984 to 1987, damaged his knee badly in a training exercise in 1986.

Stephen White (centre) with the channel swim team. Pic BLESMAStephen White (centre) with the channel swim team. Pic BLESMA

After a series of operations, Stephen finally had his left leg removed above the knee seven years ago.

He said: “I hadn’t really swam since school, but took it up again in 2013 and started doing some events, including the Alcatraz swim in San Francisco.

“I then started doing some research about amputee swim records and approached BLESMA about doing the channel swim. I knew one of the guys but the charity was able to find two more willing to get involved.

“The relay was completed in strict accordance with channel swimming rules. No wet-suits were allowed and each swimmer must swim an hour before being replaced by another member. The conditions were really rough, I was sick in and out of the water and it was a huge relief to get to the other side. But there was a great atmosphere on the boat and a lot of banter along the way.

Stephen White, who has been nominated for a national award for his channel swim. Pic BLESMAStephen White, who has been nominated for a national award for his channel swim. Pic BLESMA

“We completed the course in 12 hours and 14 minutes and set the record for a four-man amputee relay team, but the most important thing for us was being able to help BLESMA, which does such fantastic work with injured servicemen and women.

“We raised around £5,000 for them, but it was as much about raising the profile of the charity, which is in the shadow of other military charities.

“The nomination is really a bonus and something none of us were really expecting. We were in the public eye quite a bit after the event as the BBC had a film crew on the boat, but since then it’s gone quiet really.

“But it’s great for the team and charity to be recognised in this way, and all the finalists will be attending the House of Lords in February before the awards dinner in April.”

Information: Log on to www.soldieringon.org to vote for the BLESMA channel swimming team. Polls close at midnight on April 8.

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