Surgeon swims Mersey for charity

Hundreds of loyal supporters do all sorts to raise money for the Scottish Catholic International Aid Fund each year – but a surgeon swimming the Mersey is definitely one of the more unusual.

Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon Matthew Cartwright-Terry is a long-time supporter of CAFOD, SCIAF’s sister organisation in England.

Yet he also signed up to SCIAF’s mailing list years ago, after hearing an inspiring talk from a former SCIAF Chief Executive. And this summer he was so moved by a letter he received from SCIAF, he decided to dedicate his swim to their appeal.

Matthew said, “I was inspired to support SCIAF through a flier I was sent concerning the distress of the Ethiopian people. The swim was a bucket list activity with the timing the perfect opportunity to provide some support.” 

Matthew is a member of the ‘58 Society’, a group of surgeons (and one husband), founded in 1958 to train and support each other during the years of higher surgical training.

Matthew said, “The swim couldn’t have been on a better day. The sun rose early and stayed all day. We had a delay due to maritime traffic, as the authorities wouldn’t hold the shipping back for a few swimmers.

“Wearing a wetsuit in the sunshine became too much and so inevitably most jumped in the refreshing waters of the Mersey! Although murky and nothing like a mountain stream it was lovely to cool off.

“Finally, we set off trying to remain in our group, the 58 Society, as per safety instructions. The six of us managed to remain together for the entire crossing with a couple of stops to admire the view from the middle of the river and even take some selfies.”

As they reached Birkenhead, the group was greeted by the Mayor of Wirral, Councillor Jerry Williams under the welcome banner to rounds of applause and cheers by family and friends – making it feel like “a triumph.”

Matthew added, “The day could not have been achieved without considerable organisation from local volunteer enthusiasts and the RNLI and other volunteer groups providing safety and logistical support. It meant that the swim could be conducted across a dangerous stretch of water with sensible risk management. Hopefully, there will be many more cross-Mersey swims.

“I hope this small contribution from my donors, will make allow SCIAF to continue to improve the lives of those in less fortunate circumstances. I thank you for bringing the plight of these people to my attention, wishing them and yourselves happiness in the future.”

Image: Mayor of Wirral, Cllr Jerry Williams with some of the swimmers – Matthew Cartwright-Terry is second right

Why not follow on Facebook, Twitter, and Threads? You can also send story ideas or letters to the editor to