Comedian David Walliams yesterday finished his epic swim from the source of the river Thames in Gloucestershire to Westminster Bridge, where he was greeted to a hero's welcome by hundreds of well wishers. The Little Britain star took on the challenge in aid of BBC’s Sport Relief.
The 140 mile swim was completed in only seven days, as the 6 foot 3 incher battled swans, rowing boat oars, Labrador dogs and ‘Thames tummy’ – which almost finished him off after the second day.
Buoyed (sorry!) by the support and donations from members of the public, Walliams refused to give in despite suffering from diarrhea and loss of appetite – the latter being the biggest risk to completing the challenge as he should have been munching his way through 8,000 calories each day.
After an emotional embrace with his wife, Lara Stone, Walliams climbed the stairs to the balcony at County Hall to pose for photographs and wave at the crowd. On the balcony, he was joined by celebrity supporters including Barbara Windsor, Sir Steve Redgrave and fellow comedians Miranda Hart and Lenny Henry.
Henry announced to the throngs of supporters that Walliams had raised £1,093,325 as a result of his swim. Walliams added: “Thank you so, so much, thank you for your waves, your cheers, but most of all, thank you for your donations, because each time this would be completely meaningless unless you all put your hands in your pocket, and I know times are hard so I really really thank you from the heart, you’re really going to make lives better.”
You can donate to Sports Relief by texting ‘swim’ to 70005.
Words and pictures by Andy Thornley.