Charity begins at home... or in the Thames

Published September 13, 2011

David Walliams completed an epic 140 mile swim in eight days, following the path of the River Thames to raise money for Sport Relief. He finished yesterday, and my guess is he’s been sleeping ever since. Almost immediately that he climbed out of the Thames for the last time, he spoke to the BBC for a surprisingly eloquent, if exhausted, interview.

I’m not normally one to take much notice of the crazy celebrity stunts. I vaguely followed Gary Barlow when he was climbing a mountain, but then Scott Mills walked a desert and that mostly passed me by. I was also only a little bit aware that Walliams had already swum the Channel - this Thames trip was his idea of topping that.

David Walliams

He certainly did top that. I followed it practically every step of the way, watching the map crawl from Gloucestershire towards his destination. I was stunned that he didn’t give up when he got sick, and when I saw some of the clips of kids cheering him on, even I started to feel a little bit of emotion.

I rolled my eyes when it was reported that he’d saved a dog’s life whilst swimming and was suddenly a hero - as though swimming 140 miles for charity isn’t good enough. I’m not his biggest fan, always been more on Matt Lucas’ side really, but this achievement just blew me away. When I read some of the things he’s up against, including talk of tides and sewage and cramps, I could only think that someone would have to pay me A LOT to do it, rather than the other way round.

He’s a crazy fool, there’s no denying that. But what a way to be crazy.

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