Mayland resident set to swim English Channel in support of hospice charity

A keen swimmer from Mayland is set to swim 21 miles across the English Channel to raise vital funds for Essex-based charity Havens Hospices.

James Cliff, 43, will be tackling cold waters, the weather and the world’s busiest shipping lane, swimming from Dover, Kent to France from 16th August. So far, he has raised over £4,000.

Living by the sea, James swims most days out on the water and swimming the Channel has always been his dream. When he turned 40 he finally decided to take on this challenge of a lifetime and start training.

James said: “I have been training for two years, and I swim most days out in the sea. I have swum long swims in the summer and cold five-degree swims in the winter, so cold that you can only be in for a short while. This year, I have swum lots of six and seven-hour swims and a “hell weekend” of seven and six hours back to back. You always worry if you have done enough but I’m trying to remember to trust the process. I have also learnt from others who have managed this crazy challenge.”

James decided to raise money for a local cause and choose Havens Hospices after being inspired by the work they do for the community, hearing stories from his friend Caroline, who is a supporter of the charity. James recently visited Little Havens, the charity’s children’s hospice located in Benfleet. He said “It’s truly a wonderful place, I saw first-hand the wonderful facilities they provide to children and their families in need. It has given me the motivation to keep going even when I want to give up.”

Havens Hospices is an Essex-based charity that provides specialist care and support for people of all ages who are living with incurable conditions and their families, either within the home or at its two hospices, Little Havens and Fair Havens. The charity must raise more than £124,000 a week to be there for everybody who needs them and thanks to fundraisers like James’ the care provided is absolutely free of charge.

The mammoth swim could take anything between 13 to 20 hours to reach France. Although 21 miles, James could swim more depending on the tides and weather. He will also have to navigate large ships in the world’s busiest shipping lane and jellyfish. He said: “When I first signed up, it didn’t feel real. Then when it was six months to go it felt doable, and I was training well. Now I’m anxious to get going and a bit worried about the magnitude of the challenge. I just need to jump in now, 20 seconds of bravery and then hours of one arm in front of the other, all for a great cause.”

To support James with a donation to Havens Hospices, please visit his JustGiving page,

For more information about how you can get involved with fundraising challenges in support of Havens Hospices, contact

Published 4th August 2023

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