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Ian conquers tide for charity swim

DISABLED Ian Turner beat the odds with his swim off Pagham.

 

Ian swam just under a mile at high tide to the wartime remains of the Mulberry Harbour off the beach to raise money for the hospital which cares for his grandson.

 

He hopes to have raised at least £2,000 for Moorfields Eye Hospital in London with his determined effort in the water.

 

“I use my arms all the time when I am swimming, because I can’t use my legs, but I was determined to finish the swim.

 

“It took me about two hours. The swell kept pushing me one way and, the next thing I knew, I was heading towards Selsey,” he said.

 

“So many people had given so much money that I didn’t want to let them down.

 

“When I got to the Mulberry Harbour, the swell and the tide were pushing me one way all the time. I tried so hard to get to the wreck but I was swimming backwards.

 

“So, I reached a line parallel to the post, a few yards away, and called that the end,” he said.

 

The conditions saw Ian, who had polio as a boy, returned to the beach in a safety boat. He said: “I would have been an absolute fool to have swum back. There was a crowd of about 200 people cheering when I got back to the beach.

 

“But I’m not the hero. The heroes are the children I see at the hospital. They are always so cheerful.

 

“I think of all the conditions the people who are there have got and it makes me feel modest.”

 

Ian, 69, of St Thomas Drive, had help with his swim from Pagham Yacht Club and Bognor Regis Hotham Rotary Club.

 

He was accompanied by a surfboarder, a kayaker and a couple of other boats sailed by

 

Pagham Yacht Club members as well as the safety boat for his extraordinary swim last Wednesday evening.

 

He backed Moorfields Hospital because his grandson, seven-year-old Sydney, has Nance Horan Syndrome. It causes severe sight problems and needs ongoing treatment. Last autumn saw former police officer Ian raise £2,400 for the hospital wheeling himself in his wheelchair four miles from Pagham to Bognor Regis.

 

After Ian left the police service in 1997, he bought a sheep farm in South Wales and became a shepherd for a few years.

 

But the long-term effects of polio caused him to retire and move to Pagham.

 

His legs are in callipers and he has undergone several major operations on them in the past ten years.

 

He faces further major surgery. It could include the amputation of his right leg.

 

But that has not lessened his desire to help the hospital’s Richard Desmond Children’s Unit.

 

“Sydney has had about 30 operations there,” he said. “I just felt I could do something to help them.

 

“I’m a social member at Pagham Yacht Club and I’ve sat there looking out at the post which marks the site of the Mulberry Harbour and got this idea about what I would try to do.

 

“The yacht club and the Rotary club have backed me all the way.”

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