Comedian David Walliams’ hero status was further cemented today as he helped a pet Labrador while continuing his brave attempt to swim the length of the Thames.
The 'Little Britain' star has battled chilly temperatures and an attack of “Thames tummy” so far in his formidable challenge to cover 140 miles in eight days.
With wife Lara Stone travelling in the support boat, he was spurred on in the latest leg of his incredible feat and today passed the 100 mile mark.
He has been cheered on by fans and celebrity pals throughout the journey. A beaming Walliams, 40, was greeted by fellow comic Miranda Hart today, who made him a messy bowl of porridge for breakfast.
The dog drama came as the TV star swam towards Cookham Lock in Berkshire, where Vinny the one-year-old Labrador was struggling to get out of the water due to a bad hip.
Walliams said: “I heard a splash and looked over to be met with the face of a sweet Labrador. I thought he was fine, but he started to really struggle when he was getting out so I swam over and helped his owner get him out.”
The animal’s owner Steve Outten, 23, from High Wycombe, said: “Vinny has hip dysplasia and was really struggling to get out just as David was swimming past. He stopped, swam over and helped me get him out, which when you think what he’s going through with the swim is totally amazing, what a man.”
Despite concerns that the enormous task could be too much for Walliams, he said today was a “great day” and that having wife Lara in the boat was “such a big boost”.
He added: “My tummy has settled a bit and I had fish and chips and some pizza last night so feel better. We have broken through the 100 mile barrier now which is great, but once I reach Teddington Lock the Thames becomes tidal and there’s a whole new set of challenges. The currents and undertows are very dangerous so I’ll need to be strong.”
As well as suffering with the stomach bug, Walliams has to undergo physiotherapy at every rest stop during the BT Sport Relief Challenge, and he has developed a rash on his neck where his wetsuit has rubbed, which poses a risk of infection.
So far he has raised more than £500,000 (£581,000) and BT is giving £40,000 a day to the fund. Supporters can sponsor the performer at www.sportrelief.com/walliams.
There is also a GPS tracker on the Sport Relief website showing where he is, and a regularly updated Twitter feed.