Hunt called off for missing firefighter Iain Hughes, who vanished while swimming the English Channel for charity

22 June 2023, 06:18

The search for missing firefighter Iain Hughes has been called off
The search for missing firefighter Iain Hughes has been called off. Picture: Instagram

By Kit Heren

The search for a firefighter who went missing while trying to swim across the English Channel has been called off.

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Iain Hughes, a crew manager at Wednesbury fire station in the West Midlands, is a father of two, and a "highly respected and much-loved colleague".

Mr Hughes set off from the Kent coast on Tuesday morning with a support boat alongside, but went missing later that day in French waters.

A large search including French and Belgian military helicopters was launched to find the married father-of-two but has now been called off, French authorities confirmed.

Iain Hughes disappeared while swimming the Channel for charity
Iain Hughes disappeared while swimming the Channel for charity. Picture: Iain Hughes

Mr Hughes, 42, had trained for nearly two years for his cross-Channel charity swim, his employer the West Midlands Fire Service (WMFS) said.

According to his JustGiving page, by Thursday morning he had raised more than £8,500 of a £21,000 target for the British Heart Foundation, Firefighters Charity, and Midlands Air Ambulance - representing £1,000 for each mile of his swim.

In a statement on Wednesday evening, WMFS chief fire officer Wayne Brown said: "Iain's disappearance is unspeakably sad.

Read more: British kayaker 'rescued by fishermen in English Channel after clinging onto buoy for two days' after vessel capsized

Read more: Channel crossings hit daily record for 2023: Nearly 800 migrants made perilous journey to Britain over weekend

Iain Hughes
Iain Hughes. Picture: Instagram

"We are giving Iain's family all the support we can at this distressing time.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and everyone close to Iain.

"He is a highly respected and much-loved colleague and friend to many."

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