The Wokingham Paper

Nirvana Spa CEO crosses English Channel to raise funds for Alzheimer’s

More than £10,000 was raised for an Alzheimer’s charity last month when Nirvana Spa’s CEO bravely swam across the English Channel.

In a relay team of six, Sean Barley took part in this marathon challenge in an effort to raise money for Alzheimer’s Society on Wednesday, July 10, with a gruelling 4.30am start.

Along with other swimmers from Andrew Allum, Henry Bell, Derek Bissett, Gillian McAlister and Stephen Gould, Mr Barley trained with Triathlon coaching business Tri50 and planned the trip for a year prior to the event.

Mr Barley said: “It was a lot harder than I thought it was going to be, but I really enjoyed it and it was a hell of a challenge.

“It was great to see the amount of messages of support that came in from friends and family. Facebook and our Just Giving fundraising page went mad.

“It was lovely to see what a warm reception we got from everybody, and the amount of donations we got, which is after all, why we did it. To make a difference and raise some money for Alzheimer’s.”

Each team member swam for one hour before swapping with another, repeating the cycle until the intrepid group reached France.

Mr Barley was the final swimmer in the relay and was lucky enough to be the first to touch upon the French beaches.

He added: “You know when you’ve got there, the seawater is noticeably warmer and once you start to touch the shallower water, it’s just the most wonderful feeling.”

At its narrowest point it is 21 miles, but due to the tide pushing, the swimmers estimate they swam between 30 and 32 miles instead — all without a wetsuit.

But the reception they received from the French was worth the extra effort.

Mr Barley said: “It was quite unusual, we got a message of congratulations from the French Coast Guard which was lovely.”

Fellow swimmer Stephen Gould said: “Those people on that beach could not have been more complimentary and it was an exciting and palpable moment.”

Nirvana Spa sponsored the event, covering all the additional costs to ensure the funds raised all went to the Alzheimer’s Society.

To find out more or donate, go to

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