Edinburgh actor and Scottish panto favourite goes off the deep end in dementia charity swim
It was the loss of his best friend’s father to dementia that spurred Edinburgh actor and Scottish panto favourite Arron Usher to dedicate his annual charity swim to the Alzheimer’s Society and, with just three days to go, he has almost hit his target.
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Arron, best known to friends as Andrew, was for a decade a panto favourite at Musselburgh’s Brunton Theatre before going on to star in the Glasgow King’s pantomime, and is no stranger to the water, regularly swimming two miles a day.
It’s something I’ve enjoyed since I was a kid,” says the 44-year-old, who lives in Meadowbank.
“When I’m swimming, it’s my time to myself, my way of relaxing but in 2017 I realised I could also use my regular exercise sessions to help others. I decided to choose a charity a year to fund-raise.”
He continues, “I started my latest charity swimming challenge at the beginning of this month after being forced to take a year out in 2020 because of the pandemic and lockdown, which shut all the pools.
"This year I chose to swim 50 miles in September, the aim being to raise a minimum of £500 in the Swim for Dementia Challenge, which raises funds for the Alzheimer’s Society. I’m almost there."
The actor, whose TV credits include Don’t Drop The Baton and King Jamie and the Angel, explains, “I'm dedicating this challenge to the memory of George Murphy a wonderful man who lived with this disease for so many years. He sadly passed away on October 21, 2020, at the age of 94. It seems a fitting tribute to him in the lead up to the first anniversary of his passing. His lovely daughter, my friend Janice White, very kindly gave her permission for me to do this challenge in his memory."
In previous years Andrew has taken part in a 5k Swimathon for Marie Curie, supporting people with terminal illness, the Aspire Channel Swim supporting people with spinal cord injury, which saw him swim 66 miles in a month, the equivalent of three Channel crossings and, in 2019, a 50 mile swim for McMillan Cancer Support, raising more than £2,225 in total.
This year his efforts have already seen him reach £415 of his £500 target. To help him complete his challenge and hit that target, you can contribute on his Just Giving page here.
He adds, “Watching how dementia changed George over time was quite heart breaking. He was always very a vital man, full of life and could still surprise everyone.
"Dementia is such a cruel disease and it affects not just the person who has it but their family and friends too.
“I feel that the Alzheimer’s Society is such a worthwhile charity to be focusing on this year, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic when people with dementia need our help more than ever. I’m swimming every day and all donations will be gratefully received.
"I’m sure George will be up there cheering me on as I cross the finishing line for the last time.”