Gary’s channel challenge

Gary Morton training for his channel swim
Gary Morton training for his channel swim

A WIGAN business manager is gearing up for a gruelling physical challenge to raise funds for his pal who has a life-threatening condition.

Gary Morton, who works at DW Sports, will swim the English Channel - known as the “Everest of swimming” - later this month to help close family friend Robin Dobie who suffers from Motor Neurone Disease (MND).

Robin, 38, a Wigan Division police officer, was diagnosed with MND last summer.

Gary, who is head of buying at DW, is a keen swimmer but is under no illusions about the extent of his challenge.

The 39-year-old said: “When I heard the devastating news about Rob, I decided to set myself a challenge to raise money to help his family through the tough times ahead and for MND Association to help raise awareness of the disease.

“I am hoping to complete the challenge in about 14 hours and it will take around 50,000 strokes to get me across the channel.”

Gary’s swim will take place between July 29 and August 10 depending on weather conditions.

Pal Robin, who is dad to eight-year-old Scott and five-year-old Mia, said: “I am extremely grateful to have a friend such as Gary whose commitment to achieve this incredible sporting challenge is quite unbelievable.

“I cannot begin to tell you just how hard he has worked in preparation for this swim.”

Gary’s target of raising £50,000 has received a boost by being backed by his employers and his challenge is being advertised in DW stores and gyms across the country.

Wigan Athletic chairman Dave Whelan said: “This is a very brave challenge that Gary is undertaking, the Channel is over 20 miles long and he will be faced with strong tides, jelly fish and have large ships to contend with.

“He is a very determined individual who has been training very hard and has previously taken part in a number of extreme sports events. We wish him the very best of luck.”

Gary’s swim across the 21-mile stretch from Dover and Calais will be subject to the Channel Swimming Association rules, allowing him to wear only swim briefs, a swim cap and a pair of goggles. He will be guided by a specialist back-up team sailing alongside.

Gary, who completed a 21- mile swim up and down Lake Windermere in the Lake District last week, said: “The main risk associated with Channel swimming is hypothermia, the water temperature will vary from 12 to 16 degrees.

“I will be faced with other challenges such as sewage, jelly fish, tides and one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world - with more than 600 vessels and 200 ferries passing through every day.

“I completed the Windermere swim in 13-and-a-half hours.

“I have competed in extreme Iron Man events in the past but that swim was without doubt the hardest thing I have ever undertaken.”

MND is a rapidly progressive condition that destroys the nerves that control the muscles leaving people unable to walk, talk or feed themselves.

To sponsor Gary on his Channel challenge, visit his just giving page and donate at