LYNDON LONGHORNE is an absolute inspiration and The Northern Echo has been privileged to follow his amazing story over the last couple of decades.

We first reported on him in 1996 when he had defied medical expectations and survived first a terrible strain of meningitis and then a series of operations on his limbs.

Straightaway his story touched many, many people who raised money to pay for artificial limbs, as he has grown. Those people, of course, include Duncan Bannatyne.

Lyndon never allowed any obstacles to stand in his way and, adopting the motto “believe and achieve”, he set out to become a sportsman with great dedication.

Now he has achieved his dream and, after missing the cut on previous occasions, he has been selected for the Great Britain Paralympic swimming team. As he is the holder of eight British records, he clearly deserves to be in the team.

This is an immense story of triumph over adversity, of pluck and determination – when the pandemic closed the swimming pools, Lyndon took to the sea to train.

And perhaps more than his indefatigable resolve, we admire his smile and his infectious personality, which is always so positive, so enthusiastic, so upbeat. That’s what made him The Northern Echo’s Champion of Champions in the 2019 Local Heroes awards.

Congratulations, Lyndon. Enjoy Tokyo. We’ll be following our true local hero every splash of the way.