Alnwick mum Gill Castle becomes first solo English Channel stoma swimmer

  • Video report by Katie Cole

A Northumberland woman has become the first person with a stoma to swim the English Channel.

Gill Castle, from Alnwick, who has been training for months, completed the feat on Tuesday 12 September after swimming through the night.

The mum, who was left with a stoma after giving birth to her son in 2011, is hoping to raise awareness about childbirth injuries and to inspire other women with similar issues.

Gill, who set up Chameleon Buddies to support people living with a stoma in Northumberland, previously told ITV Tyne Tees: "I want a spotlight shone on all these women like myself who are injured having a baby, a topic of huge stigma that nobody talks about.

"Also for people who have got stomas and I really want to show them that having a stoma does not need to define the rest of your lives."

She set off from Dover in the middle of the night and arrived in Calais this morning after spending almost 14 hours in the water.

Gill Castle completed the swim in 13 hours and 53 minutes. Credit: Handout

Gill, who is known for swimming in the North Sea in her bikini to highlight the stigma of wearing a stoma bag, completed the 21 mile swim in 13 hours and 53 minutes.

After completing the swim, an emotional Gill said: "I'm in France! What can I say?"

What is a stoma?

A stoma is an opening on the abdomen, created in surgery, to divert the flow of faeces or urine.

Stoma surgery is used to treat a range of illnesses including cancer, diverticulitis and Crohn’s disease or following a trauma to the abdomen.

It is estimated that one in 500 people in the UK are currently living with a stoma.

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