A WORCESTER man who lost eight stone for a charity swim has completed his challenge, helping to raise valuable funds for charity in the process.

Stuart Kilmister, who works for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, decided to tackle the Bantham Swoosh, a gruelling 6km swim in a sandy estuary in Devon.

On July 6, Mr Kilmister, 48, arrived for the swim along with his friend and co-swimmer Andy Green before getting underway shortly after 9am.

He said: “We went down to Devon on the Friday and visited the start and the finish to see what was what.

“The tide was pretty much out and the start looked decidedly yucky, but the finish was awesome.

“We arrived at the drop off on the Saturday at 7am and by 7.20 we were at the start venue having been bussed in.

“Andy and I spent the next two hours meeting people and taking to them about how the swim would go and trying to calm our nerves.

“Some of the stories of how people had got to that point were really inspirational.

“The water was a bit murky for the first half a kilometre but started to clear soon after that.

“The river soon opened out and the river meanders through some wonderful countryside.

“The water was cold and clear, the visibility was incredible and you could see the sandy river bed almost all the way to the end, even when it was too deep to stand up.

“I had to keep picking my next target to swim to as I had no idea of distance, so it was the next boat, the tree on the bank, or a buoy in the water.”

Mr Kilmister finished 746th out of 747 swimmers with a time of two hours, 16 minutes and 58 seconds , but raised more than £1,700 for Level Water, a charity which provides specialist disability swimming lessons.

Andy Green, Mr Kilmister’s swimming partner, finished 685th with a time of one hour and 50 minutes and said: “It was a fantastic and inspirational swim.

“We are both hoping to come back next year now that we have a personal best to beat.”

The pair both thanked their families and support staff, including Su Jackson and Fran Merrell, who helped them get ready for the challenge.

For more about Mr Kilmister’s fundraising efforts, go to www.justgiving.com/fundraising/stuart-kilmister