Iain Hughes was raising money for three charities during his attempt to cross the Channel (Picture: Instagram/HughesySwims)
Thousands of pounds have been donated to a firefighter’s fundraising page since he went missing while swimming the Channel.
Iain Hughes’ JustGiving page has hit its target of £21,000 thanks to a surge of people donating over the last couple of days.
The 42-year-old had been swimming across the Channel on Tuesday when he disappeared.
French and Belgian military helicopters were sent out to try and find Iain, along with patrol boats from the navy and police, but the search was called off last night.
Iain’s swim was in aid of three charities: Fire Fighter’s Charity, The British Heart Foundation and West Midlands Air Ambulance service.
The total donated now stands at almost £22,000, more than what he described as a ‘very optimistic target’.
At least £18,000 of this has been raised following his disappearance.
Iain posted an update two weeks ago saying his swim was postponed due to stormy weather (Picture: Instagram/HughesySwims)
On the page, he wrote: ‘I’ve set a huge target of £21,000 to raise for three amazing charities.
‘This represents £1,000 for each mile of the swim. My target is very optimistic but whatever amount raised will be split between the charities.’
Hundreds of messages of condolences have been posted online, with colleagues and friends also paying tribute.
West Midlands Fire Service chief fire officer Wayne Brown described Iain, who worked at the service’s Wednesbury station, as a ‘highly-respected and much-loved colleague and friend to many’.
On Facebook, friend Greg Morgan wrote yesterday: ‘I heard this news last night and didn’t want to believe it… I life-long friend my brother’s friend.
‘This man gave me the opportunity to learn about becoming a firefighter and [I] got in the job because of his help and guidance. I’m gutted beyond words. A true champion in all sense of the word.’
Iain had been training for the Channel swim for two years (Picture Instagram/HughesySwims)
Cox Coleys, from the area’s open swimming community, posted: ‘Devastated by this news. Everyone locally within the open water swimming community knew Iain who was challenging himself to raise money for some great causes.
‘A gentleman and a great inspiration to many. Our love and prayers go out to his family and friends.’
The exact details of what happened haven’t been shared but Iain was accompanied by a support boat at the time.
Many online questioned how the tragedy could happen if he was being monitored by people on the boat.
Ian, now 42, became a firefighter at 19 (Picture Instagram/HughesySwims)
But some said that a swimmer is usually not within reach of the boat and if they go under with little notice and didn’t resurface it would be difficult to find them.
According to his Instagram page, Iain was due to swim the Channel a couple of weeks ago, but couldn’t because of stormy weather.
Iain become a firefighter at the age of 19, the fire service said, and worked at nine different stations before joining the Technical Rescue Unit last year.
He had been training for the cross-Channel swim for two years.
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