A CHARITY swimming relay has been organised in memory of Dudley firefighter Iain Hughes who died during an attempt to swim the English Channel.

Colleagues of the West Midlands Fire Service crew manager will be taking part in a 36-hour relay swim on March 7 and 8 at the David Lloyd Dudley fitness club in Brierley Hill.

The event will raise money for Iain’s chosen charities which he had been supporting during the Channel swim that ended in tragedy last June. To donate click here.

The 42-year-old, from Dudley, who was based with the fire service’s technical rescue unit in Wednesbury but had worked at fire stations across the Black Country including Stourbridge and Brierley Hill, went missing hours into the solo charity swim in aid of the Firefighters' Charity, the Midlands Air Ambulance Charity and The British Heart Foundation.

A major search and rescue operation was launched on June 20 after the father-of-two disappeared, but sadly it was called off on June 21. It was later confirmed on July 28 that his body had been found in waters off Belgium.

An inquest, held at Black Country Coroner’s Court, in Oldbury, on Thursday February 8, concluded his death, which was consistent with drowning, was due to misadventure.

In the days and weeks following Iain’s tragic disappearance more than £56,000 was raised for his chosen charities and the fundraising total has since topped £80,000.

Friends and work colleagues from West Midlands Fire Service, which Iain joined at the age of 19, now hope to raise further funds in his memory by staging a charity relay swim involving 48 participants who will wear swimwear kindly donated by Iain's favourite brand.

Colleague Jim McParland, watch commander at Wednesbury Technical Rescue Unit, said: “We will be continually swimming in 45-minute slots, trying to get as many lengths in as possible, whilst wearing Iain's favourite style of 70s Budgie Smugglers.”

Anyone wishing to donate to the cause can do so online at https://www.peoplesfundraising.com/fundraising/hughesys-relay-swim