Henk’s marathon trike challenge

A WOKING man who suffered a stroke during a heart operation 17 years ago, leaving him mostly paralysed down one side, has completed a marathon-length tricycle ride to raise money for a local charity.

Henk van der Graaf was a vice-president at Morgan Stanley when he went in for the latest in a series of life-long operations to repair a heart valve that was defective when he was born.

Henk surrounded by his support team – Emma, Myrthe, Justin, Felix, Ben and Ellie – just before his marathon tricycle ride

Blood flow to his brain was interrupted, causing the stroke and putting Henk, now 60, into a coma for three weeks.

He was left without the use of his left hand and arm, was unable to bend the joints in his left leg and had memory and speech problems.

 “I spent a year and a half at a fantastic stroke hospital in Godalming where they straightened my arm and helped me to be able to walk again,” he said.

Henk also had speech therapy and started going to the Hillview Medical Centre, where he has weekly physiotherapy.

The “Henktathlon” last year

In April last year, Henk’s physiotherapist, Ben Salvetti-Langton, suggested that he try to complete a triathlon for charity.

He was unable to run, but completed the “Henktathlon”, rowing 10km, cycling 21km and swimming 800 meters. The challenge raised £2,500 for the Stroke Association.

As soon as Henk had completed that challenge, Ben suggested the marathon tricycle ride.  “We began training in March where I could only manage 3km, but over the last three months I have built my confidence and tolerance for riding outdoors,” Henk said.

Henk is hoping to raise £1,000 for the Hillview Charitable Trust, which buys equipment for disabled patients at the medical centre.

To donate to Henk’s challenge and support Hillview Charitable Trust, visit https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/henk.

For the full story get the 15 August edition of the News & Mail

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