Portishead man raises more than £3,400 for a terminally ill father

PUBLISHED: 14:47 01 September 2020

Joe Woodland with Gary Atkinson

Joe Woodland with Gary Atkinson


A Portishead man has raised more than £3,400 towards the wishlist of a terminally-ill father by swimming for 15 hours at Clevedon’s Marine Lake.

Joe Woodland - Challenge complete, raising more than £3,000 for Gary Atkinson's wish list.Joe Woodland - Challenge complete, raising more than £3,000 for Gary Atkinson's wish list.

Joe Woodland planned to swim 21 miles, the equivalent of the English Channel, on August 29, but harsh winds, the cold and shoulder pain brought the challenge to an early close, just short of his target.

He said: “I managed 18 miles on the day, the wind was brutal all day - the cold, plus my shoulder pain ended the swim at around 9pm.”

Joe trained for six weeks preparing for the event, an idea he came up with after finding out about Gary Atkinson’s cancer diagnosis.

Joe’s daughter Georgia and Gary’s son Archie became friends through a shared childminder.

Joe Woodland with Archie AtkinsonJoe Woodland with Archie Atkinson

This was how Joe became aware of Gary’s diagnosis, and the fundraising spurred on by Gary’s daughter Annaliza.

Joe added: “I’m really proud of the money I raised and the distance I was able to cover - a marathon in open water swimming is a minimum of 10k.

“I felt confident going into the swim, as I had prepared well, however due to the time I had to train and I had never covered any real distance of more than 5k.

“There was a lot of unknowns I had to deal with during the hard miles on the swim.

“I’ve fallen in love with swimming, and had some great messages from the open water swimming community, that really brings home the enormity of what I was able to achieve.”

Joe is already considering his next challenge - an 11-mile swim across the Bristol Channel next summer after taking the winter off for his body to heal.

He added: “I have my eye on the next challenge. I’ve great experience of long-distance swimming and there’s plenty of time to train.”

Among the supporters at the early morning event was Gary, along with his wife Konnie and their son Archie.

Konnie said: “What Joe has done and achieved in such a short period of time is amazing.

“I really can’t thank him enough for doing this for our family.”

To donate money, log on to www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/joe-woodland-channel-swim

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