‘Bionic’ dad Neil in 21 mile charity swim

clipstone man Neil Hardwick sponsored swim after stroke.
clipstone man Neil Hardwick sponsored swim after stroke.

An inspirational Clipstone dad who had his leg rebuilt with steel implants following a life threatening stroke is set to swim the distance of the English Channel

Neil Hardwick had a titanium reconstruction of his leg after virtually losing the use of it following a stroke in 2010.

Just a year ago the 53-year-old could barely swim one length of the Water Meadows pool.

Now he is facing the challenge of his life and will swim a total 21 miles over seven days to raise funds for Clipstone Welfare Colts Football Club.

Neil has struggled with diabetes since 2005 and in 2010 he suffered a life-threatening stroke.

It left Neil disabled with very little movement in his left side and with severe limitations in his legs which meant walking was a challenge.

He said: “Having the stroke completely changed my life.

“It happened in my sleep and I lost all my left side for 12 weeks. It took all the muscles away and I had old rugby injuries which weakened it further.”

He has three metal plates screwed into his thigh and shinbone with a wedge of three plates which allows him to move his knee.

“It’s like being made of Meccano,” joked Neil.

“Instead of a knee replacement they built it out of titanium and it sets all the alarms off.”

The doctors only gave him a 20 per cent chance of walking again.

He said: “I was laid up in bed for 14 weeks and I had to learn to walk again like a baby. But I was determined not to let it beat me.”

Neil suffered two further strokes and had operations on his shoulder and elbow, He also discovered he has diabetes neuropathy, a condition which is progressively damaging his nerve endings.

But he has battled on and decided to take up swimming as part of his physiotherapy.

He said: “It took me an hour to swim a length at first but with the help of instructors and staff at Water Meadows I can now do this,

“They have been great - they took it as a challenge when I came in walking on two sticks.”

He will swim the distance at the Water meadows pool between January 16-22.

Carolyn Hallam, sports and community development manager said: “Mansfield District Leisure Trust are happy to support Neil in his sponsored swim at Water Meadows Swimming and Fitness complex. Neil started as one of our Healthy Life members – a supported exercise scheme to help inactive people and those with medical conditions to improve their fitness. Neil has continued exercising after he finished the programme and is an inspiration to everyone.”

Neil, whose brother Jamie is a youth performance coach for Mansfield Town, aims to raise £5,000 for the Colts club which offers sporting opportunities for children aged six to 14.

It is a cause close to Neil’s heart and his way of saying thanks for the role the club has played in his life over the years.

Colts vice chairman Chad Rutter said: “What Neil is doing for us is fantastic. We are realy honoured he has chosen us. This is no ordinary challenge and we will be behind him all the way.”

The team, which promotes youth football and an active lifestyle, is currently sponsored by Checkatrade, an online resource committed to helping combat the UK’s rogue trader problem.

To make a donation, visit, www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/neil-hardwick-1. Donations can also be made by cheque, payable to Clipstone Welfare Colts FC and sent to: Neil’s Swim the Channel Challenge, Clipstone Welfare, Mansfield Road. Clipstone NG21 9AL.