Hereford & Worcester

Worcester Warriors star to swim channel for under-threat Acorns hospice

Alex Grove at Acorns Children's Hospice in Worcester Image copyright Acorns Children's Hospice
Image caption Alex Grove chose to fundraise for his local children's hospice after visiting with his former team

A retired rugby player is training to swim the English Channel to fundraise for an under-threat children's hospice.

Alex Grove, who played for Worcester Warriors and Scotland, will swim across the 21-mile stretch of water from Dover to Cap Gris Nez in France next summer.

The money he raises will be donated to Acorns Children's Hospice, which has a centre near Mr Grove's Worcester home.

The hospice cares for children across the West Midlands and is fundraising £2m to keep its Walsall branch open.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Mr Grove was a professional rugby player for 12 years before retiring last year

Acorns is working to raise £2m to keep its Walsall branch open after it was feared the centre might have to shut due to lack of funds. The centre looked after 200 children and their families last year.

It also has centres in Worcester and Birmingham.

Acorns is an incredibly special place," Mr Grove, 32, who made a number of visits to the hospice with teammates, said.

"My wife, Tash, and I are extremely lucky to have two healthy children, Imogen and Ottilie," he said, "so choosing this wonderful charity was an easy decision".

The hospice announced on Monday that it had raised £500,000 since July.

Image copyright Acorns Children's Hospice
Image caption The former rugby star has completed a number of marathon swims in training

The charity said it was "thrilled" Mr Grove had chosen to support Acorns.

"We simply wouldn't be here without people like Alex, who are willing to go that extra mile to help us continue our work caring for children and families," Mel Hall, Acorns' area fundraiser, said.

Mr Grove's training has seen him complete marathon swims including the Great North Swim at Lake Windermere, Dock to Dock at London's Royal Victoria Docks and the Thames Marathon.

Swimming the channel, however, is "the pinnacle in endurance swimming," he said.

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