Channel swim and proposal in one day
A CROSS-CHANNEL swimmer completed her fundraising mission and got engaged on the same day.
Laura Tonge (pictured) was part of a team that crossed the English Channel last month.
Her father, Simon Tonge, is the executive director of Paignton Zoo, the charity she was completing the swim for.
Laura, who works for Swift Carpets in Paignton, overcame a lack of sleep, heavy seas, sunburn and extreme sea-sickness to complete the challenge — and then got engaged immediately afterwards.
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The swim took 16 hours and 55 minutes — the average for a relay is about 15.
"We were just pleased to complete it," said Laura.
"At the end, I was so happy I could have cried. I was so proud of the team and of my own efforts. I didn't want to let my sponsors or my team down, so I was pleased we did it."
But completing the swim wasn't the only cause for celebration as Laura had been discussing marriage with her boyfriend of three years, Martin Pearse, before the swim.
She said: "He sent a text just after I did my last hour of the swim saying 'I've just told your dad he gave us his blessing' so then it was real and I was so happy. He was in Devon with my dad — he was very brave to visit him alone. I wanted to tell everyone on the boat but I had to hold my tongue as my Mum didn't know at that point."
The wedding is planned for 2014.
Laura was part of a relay team of six, all linked to top zoos and wildlife charities.
She thinks her fundraising total for Paignton Zoo will be about £1,200.