A STROKE patient will make waves for charity when he takes on a swimming challenge.
Grandfather Len Thompson, from Washington, will fly out to the West Indies for a 15-day sailing voyage from Antigua to the Bahamas, on a Tall Ship called Tenacious.
But part of the trip will see the former construction company project manager attempting to swim unaided around the vessel.
As the 66-year-old has been left paralysed down his left side, no longer has use of his left arm and can only walk short distances with the aid of a stick after his stroke, the charity dip will be a major achievement.
But Mr Thompson is determined to spend 90 minutes in the water, helping to raise cash for charities Cystic Fibrosis and The Jubilee Sailing Trust, which operates the vessel.
Accompanied by South Tyneside friend, Anthony Morrow, Mr Thompson will fly out to the West Indies on March 2.
He said: “I’ve been doing some training in local pools and am determined to spend up to 90 minutes in the water, but it will be hard.
“I used to do a lot of swimming when I worked abroad and I have a rescue diver qualification, so that will all help.”
He added: “I’ve raised more than £300 so far, but would love to get around £1,000, which I will split between Cystic Fibrosis and The Jubilee Sailing Trust.”
Apart from his charity swim, Mr Thompson will have to muck in with the rest of the disabled and able-bodied crew, including swabbing the decks, cooking, setting the sails and taking the helm.
Joking about his charity challenge, Mr Thompson said: “This would be a challenge for able-bodied swimmers, but with only one functioning arm and limited use in my leg, there is a risk I may swim around in circles.”
The pensioner, who has three daughters and eight grandchildren, spent 26 years working in the Middle East and Africa.
But in Bahrain, in July 2009, and just one week from his retirement, he suffered his life-changing stroke.
However, with the support of his wife, Patricia, Mr Thompson managed to eventually walk with a stick and has continued to enjoy foreign travel.
Anyone wishing to sponsor Mr Thompson’s swimming challenge should visit www.justgiving.com/lenny-thompson2