A REDDITCH man has been chosen to head a national campaign highlighting the benefits of swimming.

Dennis Hill suffered a stroke in 2003 which forced him to stop working as an engineer and require rehabilitation.

He had been an active, fit individual prior to the stroke so with a little help from medical professionals, he was back to work soon after.

Mr Hill then experienced a second stroke a year later and this time he lost mobility in his right side, forcing him to take early retirement and confining him to a wheelchair and using a walking stick.

He also lost the ability to read, write and count but he was remained determined to live life to the full.

His physiotherapist referred him to the swimming pool in a bid to improve his mobility and lose the weight he’d gained since suffering the second stroke.

He struggled to swim at first but with the support of lifeguards at his local pool, he developed a stroke that worked for him.

14 years later, he’s still swimming four times a week for 100 lengths each time.

He regularly speaks about the importance of physical activity for others who’ve experienced debilitating illnesses.

Speaking about the campaign, by Swim England, Dennis said he was thrilled to be part of it.

"If my physio hadn’t pointed me in the direction of the pool I don’t know where I’d be today.

"Swimming has had such a positive impact on my physical health by improving my fitness and aiding mobility but it has also had a real benefit on my mental health.”

Dennis’ story is part of a wider campaign by Swim England and their 12 partners ahead of World Health Day (April 7).

The aim is to urge the medical profession to be more proactive in prescribing swimming as part of a programme of activity to manage medical conditions and aid recovery.

Elaine McNish, Head of Health and Wellbeing at Swim England, said: “Swimming is an ideal activity which can help people manage a range of medical conditions and we are calling on the medical profession to consider recommending swimming to people who would benefit from improved physical health.

“To have the support of people like Dennis who’ve experienced the benefits swimming can have is fantastic and I sincerely hope it inspires others to try swimming and transform their physical health."