AN INSPIRATIONAL teenager has set himself the challenge of swimming the distance of the English Channel to help raise money for people living with spinal injuries.

Peter Knowles, who is a pupil at Kingsdown School, is taking part in the mammoth swimming fundraiser in aid of Aspire – a charity that works with people with spinal cord injuries to create opportunity, independence and choice.

The 14-year-old is completing the swim over 12 weeks at the Blunsdon St Andrew branch of David Lloyd Clubs alongside his mum Rachael.

“Swimming is one of the sports I really enjoy and that is why I chose to do it,” the Year 10 pupil said.

“So far it is going well and we have covered six miles already.

“People are surprised when I tell them I’m doing it but all of them are quite positive about it.”

Every eight hours, someone in the UK sustains a spinal cord injury and the money raised from the charity swim will help ensure people leaving hospital have somewhere suitable to live but also have access to the essential equipment they need.

The 22-mile distance of the Channel equates to nearly 200 lengths of the pool and the mother-son duo have set themselves the challenge of completing two to three miles a week.

Peter has so far counted on the support of friends, family members and even his teachers who have sponsored him to complete the swim.

“The money raised can help make their lives that little bit easier,” Peter added.

“Unless it happens to you, I can’t imagine what it would be like to go through something like that.”

As well as cheering on her son along the way, Peter’s mum Rachael is also taking part after hearing about the challenge from her cousin.

The 53-year-old said: “We normally come swimming anyway so we thought it is something we could do for a good cause. “It is a good way for Peter to spend his leisure time and it is nice from that perspective know that by doing this swim it is helping raise money to help other people."

“Sabrina, the manager at David Lloyd, has been wonderfully supportive by making sure we can use the lane as much as possible to complete the challenge at our own pace.

“We are really pleased with the support we have had and we’re looking forward to doing our best for everyone and raising as much money as possible for such a good cause.”

Laura Winsbury, special educational needs and disabilities coordinator at Kingsdown, said the school is all behind Peter.

“I am very proud of his achievements and what he is doing to raise awareness of the spinal charity,” she added.

“We are all behind him and supporting him every stroke of the way.”

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