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Thousands show support for missing firefighter Iain Hughes after English Channel charity swim

Fire crew manager Iain Hughes has gone missing during a charity swim across the English Channel where he was raising money for three charities.

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Iain Hughes. Photo: Instagram @Hughesyswims

Thousands of well-wishers have taken to social media to show support for the missing Wednesbury-based firefighter after the search was called off by French authorities.

The 42-year-old from Dudley disappeared while raising money for the British Heart Foundation, The Fire Fighters Charity and Midlands Air Ambulance, where he aimed to swim 21 miles to raise £21,000.

Hundreds of people have started showing their support, leaving messages of hope, love and respect for the missing firefighter, while hundreds of others have donated thousands of pounds to his Justgiving page.

Steph Burd wrote on Facebook: "Sending positive vibes to finding this man, praying he is brought home to his loved ones and friends."

Sam O'Brien also wrote on Facebook: "Just heartbreaking, my heart goes out to all family and friends."

Iain joined the fire service in 1999 at the age of 19 ans spent his life building an exemplary career, earning a promotion to crew manager in 2016, He went on to join the technical rescue unit in 2022.

Rachel Anne wrote: "This is just so sad, after all the experience, dedication and determination he must have gone through to train to do all of this.

"Sending thoughts, love, strength and prayers to his family, close friends and loved ones."

On Justgiving, the Spedding family wrote: "A true hero, who dedicated his time to serving the public without fear of favour and gave his life to help others."

Phil Handley wrote: "Thoughts with all the family, what you've done for charity Hughesy is remarkable."

Kerry and Andy said: "A brave and inspiring man, such sad news, thoughts are with Iain's family."

Tom Colling, who is preparing for his own swim in the Channel, wrote: "As someone preparing for a Channel swim relay, I'm so sorry to hear the tragic news about Iain.

"My thoughts are with him and his family. May he continue to raise a fantastic amount for charity."

West Midlands Fire Service also released a message of support on Facebook, saying: "We are heartbroken to confirm that one of our Crew Managers, Iain Hughes, is missing after his inspiring attempt to swim the English Channel for charity.

"Despite search efforts involving French and Belgian military helicopters, plus navy and police patrol boats, Iain's whereabouts remain unknown. French authorities have confirmed the search has now ended."

Chief fire officer, Wayne Brown, added: "Iain's disappearance is remarkably sad. We are giving Iain's family all the support we can at this distressing time.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and everyone close to Iain, He is a highly-respected and much-loved colleague and friend to many."

The search for Iain has now been called off.

Anyone looking to donate to Iain's fundraiser visit his Justgiving page here.

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