Edinburgh charity: Derek Mackie takes on cross-Channel swim for Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland

An Edinburgh IT manager has completed a successful cross-Channel charity swim without stepping foot on French soil.

Inspired by the memory of his late wife Karen, Derek Mackie, 55, raised more than £1700 for Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland by taking on his “biggest ever physical challenge”.

A serial fundraiser for the charity, Derek set out with friends Gordon Donald, Neil McLean and Paul Edwards with the aim of swimming from Dover to Calais in relay – each man spending an hour at a time in the waters of the world’s busiest shipping lane.

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While poor sea conditions would eventually stymie the team’s attempts to reach French shores, they were delighted to swim a total of 25 miles, taking them within four miles of land – and doing more than enough to impress their supporters.

Derek Mackie has raised more then £26,000 for CHSS since 2016

Derek had been planning the event since 2020 and suffered a late setback when two of his original team were forced to withdraw at short notice due to injury.

He said: “I knew this would be the biggest physical challenge I’d ever taken on, but it was even more intense than I expected.

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“I wasn’t even disappointed that we didn’t actually get to stand on a beach in France because what we did manage to achieve in 16 hours in the water was amazing.

“I’d been training with Gordon for two years to be ready for this, but Neil and Paul only came on board a few weeks ago, so for them to achieve what they did was incredible. We left everything in the water and we put every ounce of our energy and determination into it.”

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Derek Mackie attempts to cross the Channel

Derek’s connection with CHSS began when he lost Karen to heart disease in 2016.

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Since then, he has established a tribute fund to his wife, raising £26,000 for CHSS by taking part in various fundraising events and challenges. He also became a volunteer for the charity during lockdown, a role he continues today.

CHSS interim chief executive Allan Cowie said: “We are so proud of Derek and his incredible challenge.

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“He is a true inspiration; no challenge or feat is too great, and he has raised tens of thousands of pounds to help other families across Scotland who have been affected by heart disease.”