Football Legend Graeme Souness to Swim The Channel for Charity

Photo by Darko M. on UnsplashFormer Liverpool, Rangers and Scotland captain Graeme Souness is embarking on a challenge to swim the English Channel to raise money for a teenager with a rare skin condition.

The soccer star decided to undertake the 16-hour swim after meeting fourteen-year-old Isla Grist from the Black Isle, near Inverness.

The teenager lives with a genetic condition known as Dystrophic Recessive Epidermolysis Bullosa, which causes the skin to tear or blister at the slightest touch.

Seventy-year-old Souness, who is now a successful Tv football pundit is aiming to raise £1.1m for the Debra charity, which supports Isla and about 5,000 people in the UK who currently live with the incurable condition otherwise known as‘ butterfly skin’.

Souness said, “It is just the most horrendous disease and if you are affected by it you must wake up every morning and think, why me?”

‘It’s a desperate situation. And then the parents have to deal with that. And that’s why we’re doing this.

‘I am involved in this because of how evil this disease is. If people haven’t experienced it, or seen it, you have no idea how desperate this thing is.’

Isla’s father, Andy, is also taking part in the charity swim across the English Channel, and he and Souness will set off from Dover on June 18 to brave the cold water.  The pair are raising money for Debra’s “A Life Free of Pain” appeal, which it is hoped will help pay to clinically test drug treatments that could improve the quality of life for people with butterfly skin.

The former Scotland player added: “I wanted to do something that could make a difference to Isla’s life and to the lives of so many others living with EB, and the slightly crazy idea of swimming the English Channel was suggested.

‘Now I’m not one to walk away from a challenge, but this is all new to me; despite living by the sea for the past 16 years, I’ve never been in it, and so this will certainly be the most difficult challenge I’ve ever taken on.

‘I am determined to complete the swim, though. Alongside Isla’s dad, Andy, and the rest of the team, we will complete the challenge and in doing so raise awareness of EB and support to find the treatments that are so desperately needed.”

A fundraising page has been set up on the Debra website for donations.