Body of firefighter hero Iain Hughes recovered from English Channel

Body of firefighter hero Iain Hughes, 42, recovered from English Channel a month after he went missing

  • Iain Hughes set off from the Kent coast on June 20 but went missing that day
  • His disappearance sparked an extensive search which was later called off
  • The firefighter was aiming to raise £21,000 but the fundraiser is above £56,000 

The body of a ‘much-loved’ firefighter who disappeared as he attempted to swim the English Channel has been found more than a month after he went missing.

Iain Hughes, from Dudley, set off from the Kent coast on June 20, accompanied by a support boat, but he went missing later that day in French waters. 

The 42-year-old father-of-two was aiming to raise £21,000 for the British Heart Foundation, Firefighters Charity, and Midlands Air Ambulance – representing £1,000 for each mile of his swim. 

His disappearance sparked an extensive search by French and Belgian authorities which was later called off. Mr Hughes had trained for nearly two years for his cross-Channel charity swim, his employer the West Midlands Fire Service (WMFS) said. 

On Friday, WMFS tragically confirmed that the body of a swimmer found in waters off Belgium has been formally identified as Mr Hughes. 

The body of ‘much-loved’ firefighter Iain Hughes who disappeared as he attempted to swim the English Channel has been found a month after he went missing. Mr Hughes’ family say this photo (pictured above) ‘sums up the Iain we loved’. 

Mr Hughes had trained for nearly two years for his cross-Channel charity swim, his employer the West Midlands Fire Service (WMFS) said

 His disappearance sparked an extensive search by French and Belgian authorities which was later called off

In a joint statement released through the fire service, Mr Hughes’ family said they ‘miss him more than words can ever say’.

They said: ‘Our lives were shattered when Iain went missing. He was our world. The news that his body had been found was unbearable. It still is. We miss him more than words can ever say.

‘We are proud of Iain for so many reasons. He put his heart and soul into training for the swim, but that was Iain – determined to help and support others.’

As of Friday, Mr Hughes’ fundraiser had far exceeded his target by raising more than £56,000.

Mr Hughes’ family added: ‘It is lovely to see how much money has been raised for his three charities, but also heartbreaking that he will never know the total. Thank you to everyone who has donated and who is still raising money.

‘We also want to send our thanks and love to everyone who has been there for us these past few weeks.

‘The photo we are releasing sums up the Iain we loved.

‘We will not be giving media interviews and ask that our privacy be respected. Thank you.’

On Friday, WMFS tragically confirmed that the body of a swimmer found in waters off Belgium has been formally identified as Mr Hughes (pictured)

WMFS chief fire officer Wayne Brown said it is ‘devastating news’ and that ‘Iain’s family are foremost in our thoughts at this distressing time’

WMFS chief fire officer Wayne Brown said it is ‘devastating news’ and that ‘Iain’s family are foremost in our thoughts at this distressing time’.

He added: ‘I know that many people have been affected by Iain’s disappearance.

‘We, in turn, have been touched by the hundreds of kind messages we have received, and the overwhelming response to Iain’s fundraising page. Thank you.’

WMFS said flags at its sites will fly at half-mast until sunset on Friday as a mark of respect to Mr Hughes. He joined the WMFS in 1999, at the age of 19. 

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