Local Hero Lyndon Longhorne is seeking the support of a business that can help him complete his epic story – by winning a medal at the 2024 Paralympics in Paris. PETER BARRON reports

TIME flies and, here at The Northern Echo, we’ve been following Lyndon Longhorne’s remarkable story for 25 years.

It seems like yesterday that the news broke about the baby from Crook, County Durham, who’d contracted meningitis, leading to him losing his right leg above the knee, his left leg below the knee, his right hand, and the fingertips on his left hand.

And the story became more and more inspirational with every year that’s passed, as Lyndon’s determination took him all the way to Tokyo as a proud member of the Great Britain swimming team at the Tokyo Paralympics last year.

If ever there was an example of someone who’s got on with life, no matter what challenges he’s had to overcome, it’s Lyndon. He’s shown more courage and tenacity in his relatively short life than most of us can imagine, and I’ve never known him ask for help – until now.

“I could do with a bit of support for one last push,” is how he puts it, almost apologetically.

Life has never been busier for Lyndon. Not only is he doing his best to be a good dad to four-year-old daughter, Aubree, but he’s up at 4.30am six days a week to train in the pool at the Louisa Centre, in Stanley, with an extra session on Friday evenings. On top of that, he squeezes in two gym sessions a week, in Chester-le-Street, to work on his upper body strength, while also holding down a job in telecoms customer services to make ends meet.

It’s been tough to keep it all going, but his story has reached a critical chapter as he strives to be in peak condition: first for the World Championships, in Manchester, next year; and then the Paralympics, in Paris, in 2024.

“I need to be in the shape of my life, so I’ve had to go part-time with the job, just to fit everything into the schedule that will get me there,” he says.

“It’s one of the biggest challenges I’ve ever had to face, but if I can just keep going for the next two years at the level I’m at now, there’s a chance of a medal in Paris at the end of it all.

“Making the team for Tokyo was unbelievable and, when I walked out into the arena on the first day, I’ve never been more nervous. But then, once I was on the starting block, I just told myself to treat it like any other competition.”

He competed in eight Paralympic races in 10 days, achieving his target of reaching a final in the S4 100 metres freestyle, and setting a new British record.

“It gave me a taste for more, and now I want to go further and come back from Paris with a medal, so the aim is to compete in individual and relay events,” he says.

Tokyo was delayed for a year by the pandemic and, when leisure centres were closed during the lockdowns, he took to swimming in the North Sea. While he’ll make the most of the warmth of the indoor pool during winter, he plans to add some open water sessions to his schedule before the trials for the World Championships next Spring.

In the meantime, Lyndon’s hoping to find a sponsor to help him with training costs of up to £400 a month, not counting food and any supplements he needs.

“I want to be the face of someone’s brand and help them grow,” he says. “I know these are difficult times for everyone but I’m just hoping there’s a business out there in a position to help me achieve my dream.”

In return, he’d wear the sponsor’s logo on his kit, do “shout-outs” on social media, and represent the business at events, and school visits.

So far, Lyndon has two GB shirts to call his own: one from when he was a torchbearer at the London games in 2012; and another from when he finally made the Paralympic squad in Tokyo.

In between, he endured the disappointment of missing out on Rio in 2016. He almost gave up on his dream after that, but it was seeing his little girl learning to swim in “water babies” classes that inspired him to get back to training.

Unsurprisingly, given that she’s got her dad to look up to, Aubree’s already showing rapid progress in the pool. In a year’s time, when she’s five, she’ll be able to join a swimming club, and, though he’d never put pressure on her, Lyndon admits that nothing would make him prouder than seeing her excel in sport and represent her country.

“Who knows? Maybe she’ll have a framed GB shirt up on the wall next to mine one day,” he smiles. “Wouldn’t that be something?”

  • Anyone who wishes to talk to Lyndon about sponsorship, please contact Lyndon on Twitter or Instagram, or through his website: lyndonlonghorne.com

ANOTHER plea for help has come in from Darlington’s magnificent Town Crier, Peter Stemmer, and he deserves a shout out too.

On December 14, at 2pm, Peter, pictured below, will be staging “An Audience With A Town Crier” at Darlington Indoor Bowls Club, in aid of Age UK Darlington.

The Northern Echo:

The bowls club, at The Morrison Centre, in North Road, has given the venue free, so every penny will go to the charity, which carries out vital work in the local community.

Peter, who’s a regular on the speaking circuit, decided to stage an event in aid of Age UK after seeing news reports about initiatives to set up warm spaces for vulnerable people in response to the cost-of-living crisis.

The afternoon promises to be both informative and funny, with full bar facilities, including hot and cold drinks and snacks.

“The aim is to entertain people in a nice, warm environment while raising money for a great local cause,” says Peter.

So, here goes...OYEZ! OYEZ! Tickets priced at £10, are available from darlingtontowncrier@gmail.com or by calling 07896941582. Pass it on – at the top of your voice!

FINALLY, did you know that the collective noun for a gathering of town criers is a “bellow”?

Keep it quiet in case it comes up in a pub quiz.