A PENSIONER completed a Caribbean charity swim despite being left partially paralysed by a brain haemorrhage and suffering a broken shoulder.
Len Thompson, 66, managed to swim around a boat anchored a mile off shore in the British Virgin Islands – oblivious to the fact that his sore arm, for which he had only taken a couple of paracetemol, was, in fact, broken.
“Physically I was OK, but I was swallowing a lot of salt water, which was uncomfortable,” said Len, who then climbed the ship’s mast after getting out of the sea.
Len, of Washington, had completed the challenge while on an 18-day excursion with charity the Jubilee Sailing Trust.
The scale of the challenge was large enough even before the shoulder injury, which he picked up while on holiday with his family ahead of the swim.
Len’s left side was partially paralysed by his brain haemorrhage three years ago and he describes his left arm as “pretty useless”.
Walking is difficult for him and he mostly gets around in a wheelchair.
The only support he had during the challenge came from the ship’s bosun, who joined him in the water to ensure the stiff breeze did not blow him off course.
Sponsorship money is still coming in but Len is confident of raising more than £1,000 for each of his chosen charities, the Jubilee Sailing Trust and the Cystic Fibrosis Trust.
The Jubilee Sailing Trust is a charity aimed at promoting the inclusion of people of any physical ability through sailing.
Len thanked the trust for giving him the opportunity to carry out the challenge and gave a special mention to his friend Ant Morrow, who accompanied him and was his carer on the ship throughout the voyage.
“Ant was great,” said Len. “I could not have done it without him.”
Now safely back on dry land, the thrill seeker is already planning his next fund-raising challenge.
A member of the Territorial Army’s parachute regiment when he was in his 20s, Len is hoping to do a tandem skydive next year.