Channel Swimming & Piloting Federation "Nothing great is easy", Captain Matthew Webb

25 Jul 2021Paralysed Wheelchair User to Swim Channel Relay

Paralysed Wheelchair User to Swim Channel Relay

In August 2021 six intrepid friends will embark on a unique attempt to swim the English Channel.  Their star swimmer is Paula Craig MBE, a wheelchair user who aims to complete the 21 miles without a wetsuit as part of a relay team. The team is raising funds for Aspire, the charity for people with spinal cord injuries, who helped in Paula’s recovery after a road accident left her paralysed from the waist down.

20 years ago this summer, Paula, an elite marathon runner, triathlete and serving police officer with the Metropolitan Police, was knocked off her bike whilst training.  Paula owes much of her return to work for the Met. and subsequent endurance racing at a world class level to the spinal cord injury charity Aspire. 

Commenting on the forthcoming momentous and emotional challenge Andrea said ‘If I feel nervous; my heartrate goes up just thinking about what we will face out there, imagine how Paula must be feeling!  She is fearless and determined; her work with on murder investigations and in counter terrorism is not for the feint hearted and that steely determination is impressive.  She is brave beyond belief and we all feel privileged and humbled to be part of Paula’s team’.

Paula’s enthusiasm and sense of humour knows no bounds.  Not once has she let her use of the ‘chair stop her continuing her illustrious career and sporting prowess. Her services to the police saw her awarded an MBE in the Honours List of 2005.  Paula now spends much of her time inspiring school children and groups with tales of her life experiences and raising awareness of the transformative work of Aspire.

Asked about the impending swim Paula reflected ‘twenty years ago this year, my life changed in an instant when I was hit by a car whilst out cycling, leaving me paralysed from the waist down. As a police officer and marathon runner, I had no idea what the future would hold but, thanks to Aspire and the amazing work they do, I was able to return to both and to live life to the full. Each year, I get the opportunity to speak to the Aspire Channel relay swimmers and actually think they're slightly mad. Each year I'm asked when I'm going to take part and each year I say "I'm not!'. but to mark the anniversary of the accident and celebrate the achievements of the past 20 years, I, along with five good friends, are taking on the waves, the cold water and the jelly fish to raise vital funds as well as the profile of Aspire so that it can continue its vital work to help those affected by spinal cord injury"

The team of six, known as the Aspire Mutts in recognition of Archie, Paula’s constant companion, her Cockerpoo, will be leaving Dover on the neap tide 16August.  They train frequently at Heron Lake, Wraysbury, Middlesex and have attended 3 training weekends in May, June and July in Dover planned with the charity.  Paula and the team are available for interview and appearances prior to departing Dover and welcome any opportunity to promote the swim and raise funds for this much deserving charity.

To  donate and learn more, check out the following links

Relay Channel Swim 2021 | Aspire

Paula Craig is fundraising for Aspire (

Contact details for press enquiries : Andrea Fawell.  afawell@kebbell  07500 827769


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