Family pools together for heart charity

The Williamson family, including Trevor (middle centre) and dad Martin (front left),  hand over a cheque for �1,000 to Martin Black, chairman of the local branch of Chest Heart and Stroke. INPT1415-417
The Williamson family, including Trevor (middle centre) and dad Martin (front left), hand over a cheque for �1,000 to Martin Black, chairman of the local branch of Chest Heart and Stroke. INPT1415-417

The extended family of a Portadown man who survived three cardiac arrests took to Portadown pool in a sponsored swimathon to raise money for a heart charity.

Ten members of the Williamson family, spurred on by other relatives, covered hundreds of lengths of the Cascades pool, raising £1,000 for NI Chest, Heart and Stroke.

Watching from the poolside was Martin Williamson, whose health scare last December prompted the event.

Mr Williamson (70) first began to feel unwell just before Christmas and went to Craigavon Hospital, accompanied by his wife Evelyn.

His son Trevor said, “Within half an hour of arrival, he took a major cardiac arrest and had to be shocked with a defibrillator.

“That happened again twice and he was taken to the Royal in Belfast where he had an operation to insert stents.”

Mr Williamson spent five days in intensive care where, said Trevor, it was “touch and go for a while”.

“Dad always ate healthily and was a regular walker, and they reckon that’s why he pulled through,” he added.

The swimathon was organised to acknowledge the help and support Mr Williamson has received since then from NI Chest Heart and Stroke.

Both Trevor and his wife Wendy, from Laurelvale, are keen swimmers, having previously worked in Cascades and Armagh leisure centres respectively.

Although both have since moved on to new careers - Trevor is a building supervisor at Clounagh JHS and Wendy owns Wendy’s Hair and Beauty in Laurelvale - they still swim regularly, and bring their daughters with them too.

On the day of the swimathon, the husband and wife each swam 151 lengths, which took them around two-and-a-half hours, while their daughters Jessica (12) and Chelsie (8) did 70 and 15 lengths respectively.

Meanwhile, Trevor’s brothers Neil and Stephen completed 75 lengths each while nieces Alex and Nikkita Hynes, Emma Bridges and Alana Williamson each notched up 50 lengths.