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Glasgow Live
Rory Cassidy & Fahad Tariq

Rangers legend Graeme Souness completes charity swim of English Channel

Rangers icon and footballing legend Graeme Souness has completed a charity swim across the English Channel today, raising more than £1.1million with help from his team.

Popular for his time at Rangers, Scotland and Liverpool, the 70-year-old decided to take on the huge challenge after being inspired by the resilience of 14-year-old Scots schoolgirl Isla Grist and other children who suffer from painful skin condition epidermolysis bullosa (EB).

The team - made up of Souness, Isla's dad Andy, and four others - was due to set off from Dover at midday today. But the challenge was brought forward by 14 hours, due to changes in the weather and tide forecasts, the Record reports.

Graeme and the others left England at 10pm last night and took 12 hours and 17 minutes to cross the 21-mile stretch of the channel.
Souness wore number 11 during his playing days, in a career which saw him winning three European Cups and 26 other trophies.

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He had planned to raise £1.1million for charity Debra, which will be used to help Isla and others who suffer from EB, which is known as “butterfly skin” and causes the skin to tear or blister at the slightest touch, causing extreme pain.

Their efforts have resulted in over £1.16million being raised for the charity, which it will use to try and tweak already existing skin condition creams and drugs to treat EB.

Posting on Instagram, charity DEBRA said: "They did it! After 9 months of training through dark, cold winter mornings, the team have completed the 21 mile stretch across the English Channel in 12 hours and 17 minutes, raising over £1 million to help #StopThePain for people living with EB.

"A huge congratulations to Graeme, Andy, Sean, Steph, Rob & Andy M – we are so grateful for the team for taking on this incredible challenge for people living with EB.

"You can play your part and help us to #StopThePain of EB by donating via the link in our bio. Thank you. The funds raised will go towards research into future treatments that could transform the lives of thousands of people who currently have to live with this cruel condition."

Graeme Souness and the rest of the DEBRA UK English Channel charity swim team celebrate after finishing the challenge. (DEBRA UK)

Speaking to the Record ahead of the swim, Souness hailed the bravery of Isla, from the Black Isle near ­Inverness, and how she deals with the condition and the challenges it brings her.

He said: "It is the cruellest of cruel diseases. Isla is super smart. When I talk about her I get emotional. She's like a little girl with a woman's head on her shoulders.

"She is way smart beyond her years and the daily challenges she faces is like nothing else I've ever seen. The condition she has just chews her body, it's just a crime. That's why I'm involved, it's so cruel and it shouldn't happen to anyone."

He also said he was raring to go after doubting himself during his training, which saw him swimming in the sea near his home on the south coast of England at around 5am three days a week for nine months.

He said: "I'm ready for this. I've been training for nine months. It wasn't easy in the beginning and a couple of times I did question if I'd bitten off more than I could chew."

To donate visit He became involved in the fundraiser, for charity DEBRA, due to his friendship with 14-year-old Scottish schoolgirl Isla Grist.

Isla, from the Black Isle near ­Inverness, suffers from the condition, which sees her skin tearing and breaking out in painful blisters. In more severe cases it can even cause death.


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