A 24-year-old who could not swim until 19 months ago has come within a whisker of crossing the English Channel.

Amelia Pulvertaft, of Warminster, came within four miles of completing the 20.5-mile (33km) crossing to France.

She attempted to swim the iconic stretch of water to raise money for Macmillan Cancer Support and SHOUT, a mental health charity which provides an emergency service.

Amelia, who recently completed a Masters in Gender Studies, was forced to abandon the challenge after the tide changed.

She said: “Two hours into the challenge, I got incredibly cold. It was dark, and I felt alone. I told myself to keep swimming until sunrise.

“Five hours in, I was crying and in pain, but I just looked for ways to swim that didn’t hurt.

“Four miles from France, the tide was too strong, and I would have been pulled up the coast as opposed to towards land. I was forced to decide for my welfare to board the boat.

“I have no regrets. Since this journey began, my mum has learned to swim, and many of my friends have been inspired to take up lessons.”

Amelia was supported by her uncle, Rick Pulvertaft, an endurance swimmer, and her boyfriend, Theo Greenslade.

She stopped to fuel every half an hour and was encouraged by the hundreds of messages and pounds being donated as she swam.

“I reached £5,000 while I was swimming. It helped to know that everyone was behind me. My mum works at a school who were tracking me as I swam.”

“My boyfriend is now speaking about swimming the Channel one day. Swimming is such an inclusive sport - you don’t have to be a particular body type or athletic.”

Amelia took on the challenge to raise funds for those who have been affected by mental health issues both during and before the Covid-19 pandemic.

She volunteered as a telephone buddy for Macmillan Cancer Support throughout the pandemic and temporarily worked for the NHS fielding ambulance calls.

She said: “Speaking to people both affected by cancer in my role as a telephone buddy, and in my social circle; I realised how many people were plagued by mental health issues.”

“SHOUT provides emergency service support and can be tailored to your needs. It is a free mental health text support service providing 24/7 support for anyone experiencing a mental health crisis.”

Miss Pulvertaft added: “I had two swimming lessons before the pandemic hit that closed all the swimming pools. Fortunately, my family was supportive and invested in a paddling pool for the garden.

“I would tether myself to it and practice my swimming while watching YouTube videos for guidance on strokes and technique.”

For Amelia giving up both on the training or the challenge was never an option: “It’s like cancer treatment, you don’t give up because it gets too difficult. You work toward the end goal.”

She is now looking to take on heights in contrast to large expanses of water for her next adventure.

“I, and a few friends, are looking to climb the Three Peaks next summer. My friend’s mum has also invited me to take part in a swim and run challenge in the Isles of Scilly. I would also like to climb the Denali mountain in Alaska.”

“I did promise my mum these challenges will be my last. She has only started sleeping properly again in the last week.”

To donate go to https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/AmeliaPulvertaft