It took them 15 hours and 21 minutes - but the four siblings did it! They swam across the Channel in relay, and have raised an amazing £20,000 for King's College Hospital.
It was very early in the morning - 2.30am - on 21 July 2011that Rupert Peel (Halstead), Tim Strange (Bromley), Emma Corney (Bromley), Matt Strange (Cudham), Annie Croft (Westerham) and Simon Cochrane (Bromley) set off from Dover on their extraordinary feat.
It was Matt, who just 18 months previously was contemplating having an amputation to get himself through surgeries, was the first to walk up the beach without a frame on his leg or a crutch in his hand.
Tim takes on the story:
"Supported by the crew of the Sea Satin, the Matt Brooker SOS team (Siblings Only Swim) set off on Thursday 21 July 2011.
"The reason for our name is that we lost our dear friend and family member Matt Brooker to a cancerous tumour inside a liver transplant that he had successfully lived with for over 18 years.
"We are not all club swimmers, but were driven by the challenge to raise a lot of money for these two units at King's College Hospital which are close to our hearts: the Liver Transplant Unit in memory of Matt with the other being the Limb Reconstruction Unit, as my brother - who had a severe accident a few years ago that led to 19 surgeries and reconstruction of one of his legs, leaving his leg short and ankle fused – was one of the team swimming
"We started swimming at 2.30am in the dark. The waters were cold, but calm; and in a weird way, slightly inviting! We thought we were swimming for a few hours in the dark and then the sun would arrive giving us a glorious day to make our experiences really comfortable. It didn’t happen and all that we saw was rain cloud after rain cloud pass our way, with little hints of showers and a constant breeze that chilled us while we waited for our turn in the water.
"We found ourselves sitting by Cap Gris Nez in northern France like all do eventually, waiting for the tide to give us a little help and let us in. After swimming for 15 hours and 21 minutes, we were swimming up to a beach just south of the cap with a few French people amazed at our cheers and hugs as we reached dry land.
"The most fitting part of the swim was that, purely by chance, I changed the order of the swimmers just before we started the journey. It actually meant that the last leg of the swim was made by my brother Matt. He was followed by the rest of the team and Matt Brooker’s 12 year old son, Harrison, who had come on this journey to swim the last few hundred meters."
Prior to swimming, the fundraising efforts of the team have seen donations reach nearly £20,000 and the swimmers are hoping to exceed this amount now that they have successfully completed the Channel crossing.
Matt said: "I would not have been able to achieve this without everything that Sarah Phillips, Debbie Bond and the limb reconstruction team did for me. I will keep going to make sure we get as much as we can for both charities."
From everyone at KCH LRT, we offer our heartfelt congratulations to Matt and the Siblings for this superb achievement.
For more information on the swim or to sponsor the group:
01959 533 704 (Matt Strange)