Belfast Telegraph

How James cashed in on efforts of channel-paddling bravehearts

By Eddie McIlwaine

In 1960, way back 54 years ago, Florence Chadwick paused during training at Donaghadee to autograph a £1 note for a James Stout of East Street in the seaside town.

He had already shown her a framed £1 signed for him by Tom Blower who was the first marathon swimmer to conquer the North Channel in 1947.

James promised Florence that if she was successful in her attempt to be the first woman to beat that sea crossing he would have her £1 framed too and would hang the two side by side in his kitchen.

I wonder now all this time later what happened to those unique notes?

For the record, Miss Chadwick swam the English Channel from France in 1950 and again in 1951 and in 1953. And in 1955 from England to France.

Blower, who died in 1955, was from Nottingham and he swam the English Channel five times. He was the son of a miner who did most of his training in the Trent. Swimming came second to his service in WWII when he received several decorations for bravery.

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