Firefighter missing after cross-Channel swim attempt

'A highly-respected and much-loved colleague and friend'.

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Published on 21 June 2023

‘A highly-respected and much-loved colleague and friend’.

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.

Iain, based at Wednesbury fire station with our Technical Rescue Unit, began his attempt yesterday morning (20 June), accompanied by a support boat.

Yesterday evening, we learned that Iain had been missing for several hours.

In spite of 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, said: “Iain’s disappearance is unspeakably 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.”

Iain, whose 43rd birthday falls next month (July), had trained for nearly two years for his cross-Channel charity swim.

Married with two children, he was raising funds for The Fire Fighters Charity, British Heart Foundation and Midlands Air Ambulance.

Iain joined West Midlands Fire Service in 1999, at the age of 19.

He was posted to Bournbrook fire station, and later served at Billesley, Tipton, Wolverhampton, Tettenhall, Bilston, Brierley Hill and Stourbridge. He was promoted to Crew Manager in 2016 and joined our Technical Rescue Unit in 2022.

Could we please ask that the privacy of Iain and his family is respected during this very challenging time.

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UPDATE: Thursday 22 June.

UPDATE: Friday 23 June

This weekend, on behalf of Ian, we’re holding charity car washes across the West Midlands.

Visit our charity events page to find one near you.