No ferry across the Mersey for record breaking wader

Last updated at 15:02 13 August 2006

A 6ft 9in man became the first person to walk across the River Mersey without the aid of a bridge today.

Graham Boanas, 43, from Hull, took just over an hour to wade across the mile-and-a-half wide river.

The father-of-two, who has also waded across the River Humber, is hoping to raise £100,000 for DebRA, a charity for children who have the skin blistering condition epidermolysis bullosa (EB).

Mr Boanas, who runs an electronics company, was followed by a rescue team, including a helicopter and hovercraft, in case he got into difficulties in the fast flowing river.

But despite overcast weather he managed to cross the river, which can reach depths of around 6ft, quicker than expected.

He set off from the edge of the saltmarsh at Ince Banks, near Ellesmere Port, in Cheshire, just before 8am and arrived on the opposite side of the river, near Liverpool's John Lennon airport, just over an hour later.

Last year, Mr Boanas became the first person in more than 1,000 years to wade across the River Humber.

He said: "The hardest part is trudging through the sand and mud, it's exhausting.

"You just have to keep moving all the time and go for it. It's unbelievably difficult as the currents are quite strong in the Mersey.

"But I've been training hard in the gym to make sure I was in the best condition.

Mr Boanas said he decided to walk across rivers for charity as he wanted to do something different in order to raise money for children with EB.

He added: "I saw a programme about children with EB and I just wanted to help.

"I came up with the idea of walking across rivers, I just wanted to do something different to raise lots of money for them."

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