Sir John Royden Raising Money And Hopes

Sir John Royden Raising Money And Hopes

Courtesy of Piers Townley, The Brain Tumour Charity, Lake Geneva, Switzerland.

Sir John Royden remembers his sister Emma who passed away due to a brain tumor in 2003 when she was 32. He said, “One distinguishing feature about my sister Emma was that she was loved and liked by everyone that she met. On the Venn Diagram, that puts her with a big overlap with the angel category.  Nobody ever had a bad word about her. Mind you, I think that is also true of our mother”.

Sir John Royden after his 10-hour qualification swim

Sir Royden is Head of Research at JM Finn, an investment and wealth management company. Most evenings, he unwinds with a swim in his local pool and open water swimming at various locations during his weekends. For good reason: he wants to swim the length of Lake Geneva at the end of July within 36 hours to benefit The Brain Tumour Charity.

Sir Royden and his support team are on their way to Geneva next week and have raised £282,000 (US$) to date – with more to come.

The quickest and first Ultimate Trophy Swim was completed in 22 hours 43 minutes by an outstanding Swiss swimmer Alain Charmey in 1986 who pioneered the swim. Dr. Nick Murch completed his crossing in 2016. Sir Royden commented, “Nick has been particularly helpful and forthcoming with advice on the swim and what to expect as well as feeding mechanisms too. I’ll take all the advice I can get.

I’ll be looking forward to a very large hug from my Sarah and a glass of champagne when I finish. The next day, perhaps a large fondue or raclette with my support crew would seem appropriate, followed by a very large bar of Swiss chocolate to aid my recovery.”

Sir Royden is no extreme sports neophyte. In 1993, he swam the English Channel on his third attempt in 13 hours 45 minutes, and in 2007, he climbed to Everest Base Camp. He will have to call upon his muscle memory after dealing with pool closures during the COVID-19 era. He says, “Now restrictions have lifted, I have been swimming for two hours each weekday evening in a local pool and undertaking much longer, open water swims at weekends. I have joined the Channel swimmers for their cold water training sessions in Dover Harbor as well as using Lake 86 at Cotswold Water Park to swim long one kilometer laps for hours on end. I have also been lucky enough to have been coached by Ray Gibbs at Swim Canary Wharf, one of the UK’s leading swim coaches”.

To swim Lake Geneva, Sir Royden had to complete a required 10-hour swim followed by a 7-hour continuous swim the following day – which he did, true to his nature and track record, on his second attempt in June. “During my first attempt, I was trialing a new feeding schedule and the quantities I was using were not quite right. After seven hours on the first day, I was quite sick and unfortunately had to stop. It was hugely disappointing to have to get out of the water after seven and a half hours in, knowing that I would have to start again to successfully qualify”.

Qualification swim completed and congratulated at Lake 86

Sir Royden qualified the following week, swimming the 10 hours and 7 hours on consecutive days in Lake 86 at Cotswold Water Park. “My qualifying swim seemed to attract a little attention at the lake and some wonderful people using the lake over those days even donated to the cause and were very supportive indeed, as were the staff at Lake 86. It was quite emotional finishing the 17 hours as a small crowd cheered and welcomed me out of the water. My wonderful family and friends loyally support my long-distance swims but I always say it is not a ‘spectator sport’. I am always very moved by their encouragement, but seeing others join them as I finished was truly wonderful. I’m humbled by everyone wanting to do something in support. Even the Patterdales have been getting involved.

It has been really great to join the Channel Swimmers in Dover Harbour as they train and prepare for their Channel crossings. I’ve been doing consecutive 10-hour swims in the harbour on Saturdays and Sundays and the camaraderie there is just brilliant.

Emma France and her team at Dover Channel Training have been incredibly supportive to me as well as Sarah and my team of UK supporters who have been fantastic. The Channel Swimmers are a real community and I will certainly miss joining them now that my longer cold water training is complete.”

Sir Royden is 56 – 14 years older than the oldest to complete the Ultimate Trophy Swim. “I am determined to finish the swim in memory of my sister. There was very limited treatment available to her when she was diagnosed and quite frankly little has changed in 17 years. She did have a brain operation, but that just added three rather poor-quality months to her life

Life is certainly for living and if I can make a difference during my lifetime, I’ll be very happy. Research into brain tumors is expensive and I know every penny of the money raised will make a difference, helping to find a cure and kinder treatments for the disease. Things just have to change for this woefully underfunded cancer.

I’m pleased to be supporting such a brilliant charity who are making real impact every day. I’ve had such humbling, kind and generous support for my swim so far which means a great deal to me in memory of Emma and really warms my heart. I just hope that emotional warmth transfers to its physical equivalent when I’m in the water and need a boost.’

To follow the swim, visit the links below:

David Jenkinson, Interim CEO at The Brain Tumour Charity, the UK’s largest dedicated brain tumour charity, said, “We are especially proud and grateful to have John’s support to help fund our pioneering, world-class research and carry on all our work to accelerate a cure for this devastating disease. We are unashamedly ambitious in our goals to double survival and halve the harm that brain tumours have on quality of life, and John’s incredible fundraising feat will be invaluable in helping us to achieve these by reaching a wider audience and raising vital awareness.”

The Brain Tumour Charity is committed to fighting brain tumours while funding pioneering research to increase survival and improve treatment options, as well as raising awareness of the symptoms and effects of brain tumours to bring about earlier diagnosis.  The Charity also provides support for everyone affected so that they can live as full a life as possible, with the best quality of life. For more information, visit here (

Brain tumours – the facts:

  • Brain tumours are the biggest cancer killer of children and adults under 40
  • Over 12,000 people are diagnosed each year with a primary brain tumour, including 500 children and young people – that’s 33 people every day
  • Over 5,300 people lose their lives to a brain tumour each year
  • Brain tumours reduce life expectancy by on average 27 years – the highest of any cancer
  • Just 12% of adults survive for five years after diagnosis
  • Brain tumours are the largest cause of preventable or treatable blindness in children. Childhood brain tumour survivors are 10 times more likely to suffer long term disability than well children. This accounts for 20,000 additional disabled life years for all the children who are diagnosed each year


Alain Charmey completed the first crossing of Lake Geneva in 22 hours 42 minutes 30 seconds in August 1986. Charmay, then a 34-year-old Swiss physical education teacher and swimming coach, completed an unprecedented crossing of Lake Geneva in Switzerland with Tony Ulrich as his coach. The former Swiss national swimming champion and Olympian swam 71.9 km in 22 hours 42 minutes 30 seconds from Villeneuve, on the eastern end of the lake, to Geneva by a small flotilla with his support team.

Vedika Bolliger of Switzerland was the first woman to swim across Lake Geneva in 1999 from Villeneuve to the Jetée des Pâquis in Geneva to join the 24-hour Club. Her escort pilots in the 42 hour 45 minute crossing included Gunthita CordaPradeepta Bürkisser and Kanti Göddertz in the 21°C water.

The Ultimate Trophy Swim Soloists:

  • Alain Charmey, Switzerland, 34, from Villeneuve to Bains des Pâquis on 5-6 August 1986 in 22 hours 43 minutes 30 seconds
  • Vedika Bolliger, Switzerland, 34, from Villeneuve to Bains des Pâquis on 30-31 July 1999 in 42 hours 45 minutes 0 seconds
  • Jaimie Monahan, USA, 36, from Chillon Castle to Bains des Pâquis on 26-27 August 2015 in 32 hours 52 minutes 14 seconds
  • Jaimie Monahan, USA, 37, from Bains des Pâquis to Chillon Castle on 31 August-1 September 2016 in 28 hours 36 minutes 0 seconds
  • Mark Sheridan, UK, 42, from Chillon Castle to Bains des Pâquis on 18-19 July 2016 in 33 hours 6 minutes 51 seconds
  • Dr Nicholas Murch, UK, 37, from Chillon Castle to Bains des Pâquis on 29-30 September 2016 in 32 hours 46 minutes 33 seconds
  • Helen Conway, Australia, 40, from Chillon Castle to Bains des Pâquis on 6-7 August 2017 in 25 hours 37 minutes 3 seconds
  • Deirdre Ward, Ireland, 39, from Chillon Castle to Bains des Pâquis on 4-5 September 2019 in 25 hours 45 minutes 2 seconds

For more information, visit

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Steven Munatones