Sevenoaks’ Mighty Valence Channel Swim

This September, a team of 6 Valence School staff will take on the gruelling and extremely demanding challenge of swimming the English Channel with the aim of raising £10,000 to support their SEN students.


Over the past year, Valence students have been amazing throughout the global pandemic, so much so that staff members Matt Strange (Vice Principal), Kathy Downing (Wheelchair Technician), Ali Harper (Occupational Therapist), Tim Longthorne (Pathway Lead Teacher), Aurelie Reaud (Paediatric Physiotherapist) and Sam Baker (Home Living Area Manager) have taken up the Mighty Valence Channel Swim on September 21st. Upon completing the challenge, the aim is that the team can raise enough money to provide additional well-being and sensory activities to the students.

Having raised over £4,000 so far, CommunityAd caught up with Vice Principal Matt Strange who talked us through the mighty Channel Swim challenge and his team’s preparations so far…


For those reading who may not be aware, why have 6 staff decided to take up the challenge of swimming the English Channel this September? 

We wanted to do something big and really make a difference. So many fundraising events could not go ahead over the last year and we wanted to make sure that the students did not miss out. We wanted to grab people’s attention to maximise donations.


How many have swum this length before and have the 6 of you been able to meet up and train at all? 

Only one of our team has done anything like this before and the rest of the team are open water beginners. This will be a massive challenge for us because we will not only have to adapt to the extreme cold but to build-up to the kind of distances required. Each swimmer will be in the water for an hour at a time and we are hoping to complete the challenge in about 18 hours or so.

We have not been able to train at all until recently and mid-way through April, we began open water sessions first in Chipstead Lake and more recently, Dover Harbour.


Doing this incredible challenge really shows how much you all care for the school so that you can keep donations flowing, what do you all enjoy most about being a part of Valence School? 

It is a happy, positive place to work, and we are pleased to work with colleagues that want to make a difference. Being able to support students to access education whilst meeting the complex medical needs of our students is something we all aim for.


Overall, what more do you think can be done nationally to help support SEN schools better?

Support from local communities, recognition that special schools are all unique and have their own set of challenges.


How can readers donate to support Valence School? 

Readers can either donate through our Virgin Money Giving page, sponsor some equipment (warm apparel) for the team, or provide donations for the Mighty Valence raffle.


CommunityAd wishes the fearless fundraisers luck for their September swim! You can donate to the mighty Valence Channel Swim through their Virgin Money Giving page, visit the school website for updates, or contact [email protected] to offer support, sponsorship, or raffle donations.

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