Stunning charity feat for Wigan Pier musical hailed

Alan Gregory and Matthew Unsworth
Alan Gregory and Matthew Unsworth

A disabled fund-raiser was so determined to support a new Wigan-created musical about George Orwell that he went to extraordinary lengths.

Matthew Unsworth, who suffers from the rare condition methylmalonic acidemia, which confines him to a wheelchair, swam up and down a pool 13 times to raise money for Beyond Wigan Pier.

The challenge took place at Total Fitness, and Matthew was cheered on at poolside by a large crowd of well-wishers as he smashed his fund-raising target to contribute £650 towards the production.

The musical’s creator, Alan Gregory, said he was both inspired and humbled by Matthew’s determination to help out.

He added: “Matthew is a hero. This was a feat of immense physical and mental endurance for him. Matthew’s condition affects him in a number of ways, not least of which is his inability to walk, but he was determined to help raise funds for the show and his friends starring in it, by undertaking this sponsored swim in the warm water pool.

“He showed true community spirit which knows no boundaries, and is the embodiment of the rationale behind the production. His dedication basically reduced me to tears.”

Among the adoring crowd of supporters was the entire Unsworth family, X-Factor singing sensation Olivia Garcia and popular Wigan musician Scott Chapman, who play the central characters in the piece, together with their respective families.

Following the swim, Alan threw a celebration party for Matthew at Sunshine House in Scholes.

Beyond Wigan Pier has its premiere in a concert performance in the main venue at The Edge on April 27. Tickets, priced £15, are still available from