Former doctor in amazing Lowestoft swimming challenge

ON reaching our eighth decade, many of us would be happy to start taking it easy easy.

But one intrepid former GP is marking his 86th birthday in style – by swimming a mile for every year of his life!

Proving that age is no barrier to an active, healthy life, Dr William Hamilton-Deane will be embarking on his challenge at Bannatyne's Health Club in Peto Way, Lowestoft, where he is member.

The retired Gorleston GP will be swimming the epic distance length-by-length in the club's pool – and in doing so he will be raising money for Papworth Hospital, near Cambridge, the UK's largest heart and lung centre.

Dr Hamilton-Deane, who is an experienced swimmer, having won several amateur titles, will begin his challenge over the next few weeks and he is currently collecting sponsorship for his mammoth swim.

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By swimming a distance that is the equivalent to crossing the English Channel four times, he is also aiming to raise awareness of the pioneering, life-saving treatment available at Papworth.

Dr Hamilton-Deane said many of his former patients in the area were alive and well today as a result of the excellent treatment they received at the hospital, which has earned worldwide renown for its work.

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Preparation for his swim has not been a problem, as the fit-as-a-fiddle octogenarian is a regular at the Bannatyne's pool, and he visits the health club almost every day.

He says swimming has been a central part of his life and, over several decades, he has competed in many competitions including the national swimming championships.

He would also have competed in the 1948 London Olympic Games, had not been for an ill-timed injury.

Dr Hamilton-Deane said: 'Swimming has been a passion of mine for so many years and I couldn't think of a better way to try and raise money and awareness for Papworth Hospital.

'The staff at Bannatyne's have been really supportive, and I know they will help keep me motivated through the many miles ahead.'

Alex Messham, general manager at Bannatyne's, said people should be inspired to see what could be achieved at the age of 86.

He said: 'William is a real character and a well-known member at Bannatyne's. We will be behind him all the way, and I'm sure his fellow members will cheer him on in the pool. Using exercise and his enjoyment of swimming is an excellent way to raise money for charity, and we wish him all the best.'

Dr Sarah Clarke, consultant cardiologist and clinical director of cardiac cervices at Papworth, said she was grateful for Dr Hamilton-Deane's efforts on behalf of the hospital. She added: 'I am delighted that Dr Hamilton-Deane has chosen to fund-raise for Papworth Hospital. Swimming is an excellent form of exercise and, as his consultant, it is very gratifying to see him exercising and keeping himself so fit. I wish him well.'

To make a donation to Dr Hamilton-Deane's swimming marathon, contact Bannatyne's Health Club on 01502 531116. Cheques can be made payable to 'Papworth Hospital Charity'.

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