'Channel swim changed my life' says record-setting Alnwick mum Gill Castle

  • Gill spoke to ITV Tyne Tees presenter Ian Payne

A mum who became the first person with a stoma to swim the English Channel has said the challenge "changed her life".

Gill Castle, from Alnwick in Northumberland, set the record last month after months of training, mostly in the North Sea.

She has raised around £45,000 for her charity Chameleon Buddies and is planning to travel to Kenya next month to continue her work there.

Ms Castle, who was left with a stoma after giving birth to her son in 2011, has been raising awareness about the condition and childbirth injuries.

A stoma is an incision in the stomach where the bowel is emptied and means she wears a stoma bag.

Reflecting on her swim, she said: "It has definitely changed my life. The confidence I've got from doing something that I didn't know was possible.

"Really, it's also a quiet satisfaction. I always wanted to show my son that his birth didn't ruin my life and I think as a mother, that's what I've done.

"It has absolutely enhanced my life. I wouldn't be without my bag like I wouldn't be without my son."

Gill Castle swam the English Channel in September 2023 to raise awareness about stomas. Credit: ITV

She has already set herself her next challenge; to climb Kilimanjaro.

She added: "Me and my stoma bag will make it to the top."

Chameleon Buddies was set up in 2022 to promote social inclusion among people living with a stoma or childbirth injury, both in the UK and Kenya.

It runs support groups in Alnwick and has previously done work in Kenya to support people living with a stoma.

She visited the country in 2022 to take supplies to help women there.

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