Local business director and volunteer, Barry Taylor, raised more than £8500 for Wigan based Think Ahead Stroke through gruelling six month daily swimming challenge.

Barry, a Director at ABtec Computer Solutions and Chairman of St Peters Pavilion and Hindley ARLFC, began his challenge in January by swimming in his home pool every day, and continued to do so for the next half a year in memory of his father who suffered a brain stem stroke.

The 50-year-old set himself the challenge to achieve some personal health goals, whilst also raising money for local charity Think Ahead Stroke, which offers free support, advice and information to stroke survivors, carers and their families throughout the borough.

For every metre Barry covered during his challenge, he would donate 1p of his own money to the charity. He also set up an online donation page so others could support him.

His final swim total after the six months was 318,423 meters, leading to a donation of £3184.23. However, Barry also received an overwhelming amount of support from family, friends, work colleagues and the wider community – which added £5565.22 to the total.

Barry said: “Following installing the ECU app on my Apple Watch, I was shocked to find it reported I had Atrial Fibrillation (irregular heartbeat). I decided I needed to address my hectic lifestyle, making changes to reduce my stress and workload.

“Around Christmas I decided I needed a challenge to focus the efforts on. So one day I was thinking I’d donate 1p for every metre I swim to a local charity, initially thinking I’d swim maybe 500 - 700 metres a day, but not every day, raise a bit of money and give me purpose. I decided I would refrain from my three or four visits to the pub and use the money that saved for a good cause.”

He went on: “After chatting to my family about which charity I should donate to, we decided Think Ahead was the one. My dad had suffered a horrible brain stem stroke many years ago and I saw first-hand the amazing work they do for stroke survivors and their families. Also as regular users of the St Peters Pavilion that I am the chairman of - I have seen their committed staff at work.

“So on January 21st I did my first fund-raising swim. Every swim has been recorded on my Apple Watch and then entered into a master spreadsheet to keep an ongoing total, each month setting myself different daily, weekly, monthly targets.

“I seriously only expected to raise about £2000-3000. The challenge just snowballed from there onwards, with my final swim total being 318,423 meters and donating £3184.23. My amazing family, friends, work colleagues and businesses have added £5565.22.

“The onset of Covid-19 didn’t affect me personally with the challenge - having the pool at home meant I could carry on as normal. However, I know there were plans for some fund-raising events to boost the funds that we couldn’t go ahead with. I hope one day we could maybe do something.”

Think Ahead Stroke’s Activities & Engagement Officer, Alex Yoxall said: “Everyone at Think Ahead Stroke is in awe of the amazing effort Barry has shown to complete his challenge. I personally knew Barry from my teenage years, back when I played rugby for Hindley ARLFC – the club Barry is chairman of. I also played alongside his son, Andy!

“Barry is a top-class guy and his commitment to his challenge is an inspiration to all of us. The money raised is incredible and will certainly go an exceptionally long way in helping Stroke Survivors, Carers and their Families in Wigan and Leigh.”

To get in touch with Think Ahead Stroke and find out how we can help or donate, please call 01942 824 888 or email [email protected]