Crew Manager Iain Hughes

Tragic death confirmed of West Midlands firefighter who went missing during cross-Channel charity swim



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Published on 28 July 2023

Tragic death confirmed of West Midlands firefighter who went missing during cross-Channel charity swim

With immense sadness, we have learned that the body of a swimmer found in waters off Belgium is that of Iain Hughes, our missing crew manager.

Belgian authorities informed their UK counterparts of the discovery. The body has now been returned to the UK and, regrettably, formally identified to be that of Iain.

Iain’s family have been informed. We hold them in our thoughts and prayers, and are continuing to give them all possible support. They have issued the following statement:

“Our lives were shattered when Iain went missing. He was our world. The news that his body had been found was unbearable. It still is. We miss him more than words can ever say.

“We are proud of Iain for so many reasons. He put his heart and soul into training for the swim, but that was Iain – determined to help and support others.

“It is lovely to see how much money has been raised for his three charities, but also heartbreaking that he will never know the total. Thank you to everyone who has donated and who are still raising money.

“We also want to send our thanks and love to everyone who has been there for us these past few weeks.

“The photo we are releasing sums up the Iain we loved.

“We will not be giving media interviews and ask that our privacy be respected.

“Thank you.”

An off-duty firefighter, in sunglasses and swimwear, on a beach with the sea behind him

Wayne Brown, our Chief Fire Officer, said: “This is devastating news. Iain’s family are foremost in our thoughts at this distressing time, and we are giving them all possible support.

“I know that many people have been affected by Iain’s disappearance. We, in turn, have been touched by the hundreds of kind messages we have received, and the overwhelming response to Iain’s fundraising page. Thank you.”

As a mark of respect to Iain, flags at West Midlands Fire Service sites will fly at half-mast until sunset today (Friday 28 July).

We have opened a Book of Condolence on our website:

Please use this link to read our previous statement about Iain’s disappearance last month (June), as he attempted his cross-Channel charity swim: Firefighter missing after cross-Channel swim attempt