THE English Channel swimmer forced to abort his swim just over two miles short of France has been called an "inspiration" by Acorns Children's Hospice.

Alan Gale, from Nunnery Wood, Worcester, said his disappointment was quickly eclipsed by the fact he had managed to raise just under £11,000.

He took on the challenge after the hospice on Bath Road cared for his son Harry, who died in his father's arms on August 17, 2007 at just ten months old.

Harry had cerebral palsy and heart complications.

Mandie Fitzgerald, community fundraising manager for Acorns in the Three Counties, said they were absolutely thrilled Al has passed his target of £10,000.

"He has raised such a fantastic amount.

"Even though the storm prevented him from completing it, Al’s relentless training and preparation for this challenge has been an inspiration.

"Safety has to come first and although we know he’ll be disappointed, we’re pleased the decision was taken not to risk continuing given the treacherous conditions.”

The pilot of support vessel Connemara called off the attempt after a storm predicted to arrive at midnight swept in early making swimming conditions too dangerous to continue.

Having already been in the water for over 12 hours, the 46-year-old was fighting against massive waves and a 3.5 knot tide.

The former soldier said he had "no regrets" about his swim and had covered the distance in miles between the two countries due to the route he took in the water.

He explained: "I still had strength left and without the change in conditions I am convinced I would have made it.

"But the boat pilot is responsible for the safety of his crew, passengers and swimmer.

"After I'd disappeared under the waves several times and even under the bow of the violently rocking boat, the captain had seen enough.

"I'd been pushed out to three miles from shore and we'd made no progress for an hour.

"At the pilot's say, which is final, the attempt was abandoned for safety concerns.

"I had no reason to regret any lack of training of mental or physical resolve - the Channel had simply closed its doors to swimmers at that point."

Mr Gale was due to return to Worcester at the weekend to be reunited with his wife Esta and sons Lewis, 13, and Will, four.

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