Football legend Graeme Souness is taking on a 16-hour swim across the English Channel to raise money for Debra, a charity that supports people with Dystrophic Recessive Epidermolysis Bullosa (EB), a genetic condition causing the skin to tear or blister at the slightest touch. The 70-year-old former Liverpool, Rangers and Scotland player was inspired to take on the challenge after meeting 14-year-old Isla Grist from the Black Isle, near Inverness. Isla has had EB since birth and has to be wrapped head to toe in bandages, which are changed three times a week.
Souness described Isla as “unbelievably courageous” and is aiming to raise £1.1m for Debra’s “A Life Free of Pain” appeal, which it is hoped will help pay to clinically test drug treatments that could improve the quality of life for people with butterfly skin. He said: “We need to get on top of this condition because it is brutal.”
Souness will be joined by Isla’s father Andy on the 21-mile journey from England to France. The charity supports about 5,000 people in the UK who currently live with the incurable condition.
Speaking to BBC Breakfast, Souness said: “She’s just unbelievably courageous, brave and strong. It is just the most horrendous disease and if you are affected by it you must wake up every morning and think, why me?”