Ex-RAF Cath Pendleton Swims the Channel for SSAFA, the Armed Forces Charity

Yesterday, Cath Pendleton, originally from Sennybridge and now living near Merthyr Tydfil, plunged into the chilly waters of the English Channel to swim to the shoreline of France.  Her epic challenge took 16hrs45, with no break from the water allowed.  The swim ended when she climbed out of the water on the French shoreline onto dry land.

She wore only a standard swimming costume, silicone hat and goggles as no insulating neoprene wetsuits are allowed under the English Channel swimming rules. Cath had to take small bites of food and sips of carbohydrate drinks thrown to her by her crew from the pilot boat and at no time was she allowed to touch the boat – or the swim would have been void.  The boat was alongside her the whole way, keeping her safe by navigating the safest route to cross one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes, with about 500 ships passing through it every day.

After leaving the RAF, Cath’s marriage broke down and she had to relocate – starting to build a new life for herself and her children, Cath needed support with making her home liveable as it had bad damp problems which was having a detrimental effect on her asthmatic daughters’ health.  Never forgetting the support that she received during this time, Cath is now taking on this challenge so that the charity can help more members of the military community when they most need it.  This is the first time that anyone has even swum the Channel for SSAFA – so it’s a monumental occasion.

SSAFA provides lifelong support to the Armed Forces, veterans and their families in times of need. Beginning this vital work in 1885, this makes SSAFA the oldest tri-service, military charity running in the UK.  This year alone, staff and teams of volunteers have helped over 67,000 people – from World War Two veterans to those involved in more recent conflicts and their families.

It has become clear over more than 130 years of providing Forces support that everyone faces different challenges, so SSAFA uses a tailored approach to meet the needs of today’s serving community. Whether it’s practical, emotional and financial support – SSAFA is there to serve the Armed Forces family every step of the way.

Support Cath’s challenge at: 

Notes to editors:

SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity, has been providing lifelong support to our Forces and their families since 1885. Every year our staff and team of volunteers help more than 73,000 people, from Second World War veterans to young men and women who have served in more recent conflicts.

For more information visit and follow us on Twitter: @SSAFA.

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By @Cobseo 54 years ago

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