Amputee from Risby takes on swim challenge for charity

Cris Barlow is taking on a sponsored swim challenge. Cris is pictured in Risby.

Cris Barlow is taking on a sponsored swim challenge. Cris is pictured in Risby. - Credit: Archant

Four years ago Cris Barlow lost his leg to an aneurism and confesses he thought he would never be able to do many of the things he loved again.

But thanks to his “amazing” friends at the Rotary Club of Bury St Edmunds he is back playing golf, sailing and now swimming as he trains for a charity ‘swimarathon’ to give something back.

Mr Barlow, a retired accountant from Risby, near Bury St Edmunds, lost his left leg from above the knee after he suffered an aneurism on Christmas Eve 2011.

“I was coming home from a Christmas work party in Colchester,” he said. “I tried to get out of the car and I couldn’t move my leg at all.”

Mr Barlow, now 70, was rushed to hospital. “I spent Christmas in Addenbrooke’s,” he said. “It was an awful time. The first operation the surgeon said it was 50/50 whether I would keep my leg. It was never very hopeful and unfortunately it didn’t work out. It was a horrible thing to go through. You think you will never be able to do loads of things ever again.”

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Despite Mr Barlow’s fears the support of his (pictured) family and fellow Rotarians soon had him back playing golf. He said: “They said they were going to get me back out playing golf and I thought ‘you won’t’ but I gave it a go anyway out of politeness. Now I have a 19 handicap, I do alright.”

The support of his family and friends has been key to Mr Barlow’s recovery. He said: “My daughter always wants me to do more – I use a buggy for golf but she wants me to walk.” After golf Mr Barlow’s friends set their sights on sailing, taking him to Sailability at Lackford Lakes.

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“I said to them, ‘sailing? You have really got to be joking me?’ – when I got there we laughed about fitting a metal detector to the rescue boat in case I fell in.”

Mr Barlow, Rotary Club vice president, has now set his sights on swimming in a bid to “pay back” the Rotary Club that supported him. He is now set to attempt 40 lengths at the third annual Rotary Swimarathon at the Abbeycroft Leisure Centre, which last year raised £7,000.

Mr Barlow said: “This year we are hoping for even more than £8,000. I was on holiday when I realised I could swim and that is where the idea came from. Getting lowered in... is terrifying at first and I thought maybe 40 lengths was too high. But I think I can do it in under an hour and a half now.”

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