Proud pair during the challenge

Swimming heroes complete challenge for PTSD support

Torbay Weekly

Former Royal Marine Commando Paul Wood and his friend Neil Aggett have completed an epic 30-mile swim along the Devon coast, from Sidmouth to Paignton, to raise awareness about the mental health condition PTSD.

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a condition that can impact people across all walks of life and has been sadly connected to members of the armed forces on an all too regular basis.

Symptoms of the debilitating disorder include flashbacks, nightmares, severe anxiety and devastating thoughts on a traumatic event.

The lonely swim
The lonely swim

Paul and Neil set themselves a challenge befitting a Royal Marine, although they did concede the reality was much tougher than originally anticipated. The coast from Sidmouth to Paignton features some of the most beautiful scenery in the world…swimming that coast is a very different prospect.

The duo were given a heroes welcome as they emerged from the water in Paignton and, although obviously exhausted, they found the energy to chat with ITV Westcountry news

Paul said: “All we can describe that as was brutal. Absolutely brutal.

“We went to some dark places out there, but the thought of getting back here, friends, family, think about loved ones, lost comrades pulled us all the way through.”

Neil added: “More downs than ups I’d say. It was the toughest thing I’ve ever done in my life.”

Paul and Neil celebrate their achievement
Paul and Neil celebrate their achievement

As well as the physical challenge of taking on such a difficult swim, the intrepid pair put in countless hours of planning to ensure safety concerns were always top of the list, while also promoting the whole purpose of the challenge: raising awareness of PTSD.

The swim began in Sidmouth and continued through day and night, with just the occasional breaks for food and drinks. Paul and Neil were given support by two kayaks in the closing stages, offering those final voices of encouragement to reach the finish.

Paul and Neil set themselves a target of raising £10,000 for those suffering from PTSD and this figure was soon surpassed. The Torbay pair have done themselves, their families and an important charity proud.