A MAN has set himself a 40th birthday bucket list challenge – and The Northern Echo played a part in ticking off one of his tasks.

Andrew Thompson aims to complete 40 challenges during his birthday year, one of which was to make headlines in his local paper.

Others include skinny dipping in the River Tees, learning to play a musical instrument and even standing at a bar and shouting “The drinks are on me!”

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Mr Thompson, a warehouse supervisor who lives in Barnard Castle, County Durham, celebrates his big 4-0 in June.

In addition to organising a big bash to mark the occasion, he decided to go one better and draw up the bucket list.

“After your 21st, the older you get the more you just let your birthdays pass,” he said.

“So my 40th seemed a good one to make something of.”

As well as light hearted challenges – such as wine tasting, golf and ghost hunting – there is a more serious side.

“I will be doing the Great North Run in aid of the Heel and Toe children's charity and a bike ride for the British Heart Foundation in memory of a lad who died just before Christmas.”

Mr Thompson, who volunteers for local community station Radio Teesdale, said he first got the idea of drawing up a birthday bucket list from his sister Paula.

“I sat down and started to think of what to do in November and it took a good couple of months to get it all together.

“I thought of ideas I wanted to do – I did not want it to be a chore – but I also wanted a few things that were out of my comfort zone.”

Top among these is to cook a three course meal.

“I have never cooked a thing in my life,” he joked.

He will also face up to his fears when he gets back in the saddle for another challenge.

“I fell off a horse when I was a kid and have never got back on one since,” he said.

Mr Thompson added: “I wanted to make it an achievable bucket list. I did not want to get to the end of the year and only done a few of them.”

He has set up a blog which lists all 40 challenges and will chart how he gets on during the coming months – go to andrewtomma.wordpress.com