If you took a walk along the riverbank at Marble Hill Park today, you may have spotted someone familiar in the river, today was the last day of the impressive challenge undertaken by Andy Spencer in honour of his father, Captain Francis. On the 29th of November 2021, Andy, 31, started his challenge to swim 365miles in 365 days, much of it in the River Thames, 365 days later he completed it.

Andy’s father, Francis, was the much-loved captain of the Hammertons Ferry, a local landmark that carries passengers and cycles from the northern bank near Marble Hill, Twickenham to the southern side near Ham House and back.  The ferry, one of only four remaining ferry routes in London, has been run by the Spencer Family for over 20 years, with Captain Francis as the figurehead and larger than life leader of this close-knit family team.

Tragically, in November 2020 Francis lost his fight against cancer and died aged 74 at home. He chose to spend his final time with his family caring for him and it was during this time that the family were supported by the wonderful nurses from Macmillan Cancer Support.

Andy started his challenge on the anniversary of his father’s death on 29th November, he has shared how the challenged allowed him to find “a goal and a purpose to help me through my grieving process” He wanted to also thank the Macmillan nurses who gave the family so much support, becoming the full-time carers at the end of Francis’ life. Andy, cheered on by his family and friends, has swum in the snow and sunshine, and has often taking inspiration from nature, including a double rainbow, when things got tough.

Today, Andy completed his epic challenge to the delight and congratulations of his growing band of supporters and can take a well-earned break having smashed his initial target of £10k, to date his efforts have raised over £56k.