Boys swim the Channel for Team Bowsland

Photo of the Bowsland Green 'Swim the Channel' team in the pool at Bradley Stoke Leisure Centre.

Three 10-year-old boys from Bradley Stoke have begun an ambitious aquatic challenge to raise much needed funds for their school. Finley Palmer, Archie Matthews and Joe Moody, all pupils at Bowsland Green Primary, are collectively hoping to swim the width of the English Channel (22 miles) over an estimated 12 weeks and are collecting sponsorship through an online ‘secure giving’ page.

Money raised through the initiative will be used to improve the outdoor play area at the boys’ school, which the parent teacher association Friends of Bowsland Green describes as “tired and uninspiring”.

Finley explained:

“We have enjoyed being at Bowsland and now we are in Year 6 we wanted to do something for the school. We really want better stuff to play on and when the weather is bad we aren’t allowed on the field, so we just have ‘the boat’ and that’s really old and falling apart.”

The lads are undertaking the challenge at Bradley Stoke Active Lifestyle Centre (a.k.a. the leisure centre), which is supporting them by allowing them to swim for free while they complete the 1,416-length challenge.

The three boys are keen swimmers, all having previously attended lessons at the centre. More recently, Archie and Fin have also been trialling water polo there too.

Finley’s mum Nichola explained how the challenge came about:

“The boys had been looking for a way of fundraising and whilst Fin was doing water polo he, saw a poster about challenging yourself to swim the Channel. Fin asked his friends what they thought then we discussed it as parents and with the school, as we knew it was a massive undertaking.”

The challenge began on Monday 1st October and by the end of the first week the boys had covered an amazing 331 lengths. They are swimming two or three times a week, but the amount varies due to their other commitments, such as football and rugby.

As we went to press, going into the final week of October, the boys had increased this to 594 lengths. To meet the 12-week target they will need to complete the challenge by Christmas Eve, but they say they ideally want to finish it sooner.

Faye Kitchen, headteacher at Bowsland commented:

“We are so incredibly proud of the boys and the way they have shown leadership, initiative and commitment in initiating and completing this huge challenge! The fact that they wish to leave a legacy for future pupils is simply inspiring to us all – schools are facing impossible challenges in the present funding climate, much of which is beyond our control. As ‘Team Bowsland’, we are determined to achieve the best play area we can for our pupils; they deserve a high quality breaktime to enable them to get the very best out of the play environment and, in turn, the very best from their learning. We champion the boy’s efforts and wish them every success!”

• To support the boys’ fundraising efforts, visit

Photo of the Bowsland Green 'Swim the Channel' team in school uniform.

L-r (in both photos): Finley Palmer, Archie Matthews and Joe Moody.

This article originally appeared in the November 2018 issue of the Bradley Stoke Journal magazine (on page 18). The magazine is delivered FREE, EVERY MONTH (except August), to ALL 8,700 homes in Bradley Stoke. Phone 01454 300 400 to enquire about advertising or leaflet insertion.

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