Two islanders have completed a ‘swim against suicide’.

David Higson and Marc Purcell swam the 83-mile perimeter of the island in a total of 42 hours, which they undertook in 25 stages.

In doing so, the two friends have raised more than £5,000 for five mental health charities in the island and the UK.

They are: Cruse Bereavement, Isle Listen, Stamp out Suicide, a charity in England,the Martin Galliar Project based in the Wirral, and New View Therapeutic Community based in the IOM.

Both David and Marc, who have enjoyed sea swimming since 2019, wanted to challenge themselves by swimming around the island.

David lost his son to suicide in 2018, and since then he has campaigned for improved support and awareness on the matter.

He said: ‘My son Martin was 30 years old and he was living in America, 5,000 miles away from us when we lost him. He had a few problems going on that he couldn’t resolve, and decided taking his own life would be the best outcome.

‘The shock of losing my son to suicide has been the worst trauma of my life, and I don’t think I will ever get over that.

‘I have been learning to adapt to it and live with it slowly, as time goes on, and helping other people has been very beneficial in getting to that point.’

He added: ‘I’ve been a swimmer all my life, but I came to sea swimming in 2019 after Martin died.

‘I used it as a therapy to block everything out, and it became a sort of meditation.’

‘I became friends with Marc at a sea kayaking club, and since we have become sea swimming buddies.’

The pair started the challenge in May 2022, and undertook the 25 different stages over the past 14 months, weather permitting.

The shortest leg was 2.4km which took them 49 minutes, and the longest was 9.5km which took them three hours.

David said: ‘In one of the stages we had planned to swim from Port Erin to Niarbyl, which is quite a long swim, but when we set off, there was a big swell, and a westerly wind.We decided we had to bail out at Fleshwick bay, which was 4.5km. The weather was so rough, and I was really feeling quite sick during that, I think that was my toughest stage.

Yet the adventure saw some highlights too: ‘As soon as we set off from Glen Mooar, we were accompanied by Moonlight and Starlight, the bottlenose dolphins.’

‘When they appeared, we couldn’t believe it, we were so happy, they swam underneath us quite a few times, that was a beautiful experience, and they really spurred us on.

He added: ‘I want to thank everyone who supported us along the way, your generosity is really appreciated.’

‘I hope this venture can be a springboard so that people feel more comfortable talking about suicide, and it is not swept under the carpet.’