L to R Neil Aggett and former Royal Marine Commando Paul Wood 30 mile fundraising swim for the Royal Marines Charity's Lifting The Lid campaign CREDIT WO2 (Retired) Paul Wood
Neil Aggett (left) and former Royal Marine Commando WO2 (Retired) Paul Wood (right) are attempting the 30-mile fundraising swim for the Royal Marines Charity's Lifting The Lid campaign (Picture: WO2 (Retired) Paul Wood).
Forces Charities

Former Royal Marine takes on swim challenge to raise awareness for mental health support

L to R Neil Aggett and former Royal Marine Commando Paul Wood 30 mile fundraising swim for the Royal Marines Charity's Lifting The Lid campaign CREDIT WO2 (Retired) Paul Wood
Neil Aggett (left) and former Royal Marine Commando WO2 (Retired) Paul Wood (right) are attempting the 30-mile fundraising swim for the Royal Marines Charity's Lifting The Lid campaign (Picture: WO2 (Retired) Paul Wood).

A former Royal Marine Commando is attempting a 30-mile swim along the Devon coast in less than 24 hours to raise awareness of the mental health support available for serving personnel and veterans. 

Following the loss of several colleagues who took their own lives, former WO2 PTI Paul Wood, 49, is aiming to raise £10,000 for The Royal Marines Charity's 'Lifting The Lid' campaign which encourages the RM family to contact the Samaritans if they feel as though they need support with their mental health. 

The Royal Marines Charity's mission is to provide lifetime support, advice and friendship to serving and retired Royal Marines, their families, those who aspire to join and those with close links to the corps.

Former WO2 PTI Paul Wood while serving CREDIT WO2 (Retired) Paul Wood
WO2 (Retired) Wood pictured while serving (Picture: WO2 (Retired) Paul Wood).

Starting 15 miles from the home of the Commando Training Centre at Lympstone on 8 July, WO2 (Retired) Wood and swimming partner Neil Aggett, will swim 30 miles from Sidmouth to Broadsands in Torbay. 

The swimming challenge marks the 80th anniversary of when the Royal Marines were established as Commandos during the Second World War. 

The Commando 30 miler, the most gruelling military test in the world, is usually on land but WO2 (Retired) Wood and Neil are covering the distance by sea, in line with the Commandos' motto, 'Per Mare, Per Terram'.

Former Royal Marine Commando Paul Wood has swum 325 miles since starting training in the Autumn, including through the Natural Arch in Torbay CREDIT WO2 (Retired) Paul Wood
WO2 (Retired) Wood has swum 325 miles since he started training in the Autumn, including through the Natural Arch in Torbay (Picture: WO2 (Retired) Paul Wood).

On the pair's fundraising page they say: "The cumulation of the 30-week Commando basic training is the 4 Commando Tests. 

"The nine-mile speed march, the Endurance Course, the Tarzan Assault Course and the gruelling 30-miler. 

"We have taken the most enduring basic military train test in the world, the Commando 30 miler, and flipped it from Per Terram to Per Mare. 

"This challenge could take us up to 24 hours of non-stop swimming, just stopping to refuel." 

Former WO2 PTI Paul Wood with other Royal Marine Commandos CREDIT WO2 (Retired) Paul Wood
WO2 (Retired) Wood pictured while serving (Picture: WO2 (Retired) Paul Wood).

About the swimming challenge, WO2 (Retired) Wood said: "After leaving the commandos, I sought help with my mental health but, unfortunately, not all of my fellow marines requested the same support and, in too many cases, this has resulted in the most tragic outcome. 

"One suicide is too many so it's vital that those men and women who endure the most physically and mentally demanding jobs in the world talk about any issues they are experiencing.

"We're taking on an extremely tough challenge, a longer swim than the English Channel, but if this can help just one person to open up it will be worth it."

Former Marine Commando Paul Wood has swum 325 miles since the Autumn to train for the 30 mile challenge CREDIT WO2 (Retired) Paul Wood
WO2 (Retired) Wood pictured while training for the swim challenge (Picture: WO2 (Retired) Paul Wood).

WO2 (Retired) Wood and Neil are also raising awareness of the charity Above Water's 'Stop Drowning' campaign to remind people of the dangers of open water swimming. 

The charity says that about 600 people drown in the UK's seas and waterways every year, with up to a third of those being suspected suicides. 

During their challenge, WO2 (Retired) Wood and Neil will be supported in the sea and on land by former Royal Marines Steve Hands and Matt Fisher of Macaw Security Solutions and lead kayak support Ben Branch. 

Donations to the '30-Mile Per Mare Swim Challenge', can be made on WO2 (Retired) Wood's fundraising page.