Entries for the Great East Swim are now open. Enter at: Greatswim.org/East

A paramedic will take on a swimming challenge for a cancer charity after being inspired to get fit and active when his father was diagnosed with the disease.

Nick Williams, from Ipswich, Suffolk, was inspired to follow a vocation of helping others and become a paramedic after his father Gerry was diagnosed with bladder cancer.

Nick, felt helpless following the news and decided that he wanted to be able to play an active roll in helping others.

He resigned from his previous job and embarked on a career as a paramedic and began to fundraise for Macmillan Cancer Support.

Nick took on a whopping 76 events for Macmillan in 2016, including running over 1,000km and swimming tens of miles.

This year he has set his sights on taking on the Great East Swim when the open water swimming event returns to Alton Water in Suffolk on Saturday 17 June.

Nick said: “When we found out that Dad had cancer, it was one of the only times that I felt completely unable to help him. “I didn’t know what to do as I couldn’t give him my bladder, take the pain away or stop the cancer. It made me realise that I wanted to do something to help other people and that’s why I joined the service.

“I am based at Ipswich Hospital and see the amazing work that the team does at their new Woolverstone Macmillan Centre.

“It was opened in May last year and it inspired me to want to help raise money in some way for the charity.

“I was turning 40 in 2016 and decided to take on a series of challenges for Macmillan Cancer Support as it is a cause that is really close to my heart with Dad living with cancer.

“With 2016 over, 76 events down and over £3,000 raised for the charity, I am now looking to do it all again this year.”

Nick aims to improve his fundraising target by raising £5,000 in total for 2017.

He will join 3,000 others who will take on the Great East Swim when it returns to Suffolk this summer.

The event is perfect for those who want to try an open water swim for the first time, or for swimmers who are searching for the ultimate open water challenge.

There are a selection of distances to suit all abilities including a 1.2 mile, 1 mile, 2 mile and a 5k and 10k marathon swim.

This will be the second year that Nick has taken on the event and he hopes to progress to a 5k distance as he grows in confidence.

He added: “I took on the 1 mile distance at the Great East Swim last year and loved it. Now I feel a little more confident in my swimming skills, I am going to do the 2-mile this year.

“I began running four years ago with my Dad as a way of keeping active and once I had managed to run a 10k without stopping, I began to look for a different challenge.

“Since I began to turn my life around with fitness and keeping active I have lost three stone in the process.

“Training is a key part to completing all of the challenges that I do and it’s very important to find the time.

“It may be hard but crossing the finish line at the end makes you realise that the pain was all worth it.

“Macmillan Cancer Support have been amazing. They’re an inclusive charity and whenever I am swimming or running an event, it’s fantastic to hear them cheering you on.

“They are like my second family and if I am ever doing an event like the Great East Swim on my own, I never feel alone when they are there.”

Helen Hancock, Regional Challenge Programme Manager for Macmillan Cancer Support, said: “We are delighted that Nick is taking on the Great East Swim for Macmillan and we’re looking forward to supporting him and all the other Macmillan swimmers on the day.

“We’re hoping to raise £25,000 from the event this year.

“This could support our cancer support specialists run the welfare rights element of our phone service for a week, dealing with an average of 394 individual cases and helping secure £959,171 in unclaimed benefits.

“People like Nick, taking part in these challenges for Macmillan, play such an important role in helping raise vital funds to reach more and more people living with cancer.”

Support Nick’s fundraising for Macmillan Cancer Support here.

Entries for the Great East Swim are now open. Enter at: Greatswim.org/East