When Ralph was driving he began to experience a strange locking sensation in his fingers whilst driving, and following a blood test he was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Ralph’s diabetes led to aneurysms in the blood vessels behind his eyes, and despite laser surgery, Ralph eventually lost complete vision in one eye and lives with limited vision in the other.

During his sixties Ralph had a heart attack and underwent a triple heart bypass. Following surgery, Ralph attended cardiac rehabilitation sessions at Royal Blackburn Hospital. Despite not being a gym enthusiast, Ralph credits these regular sessions for improving his strength and stamina, enabling him to return to swimming. After surgery and by building activity into his routine, Ralph’s heart function increased from 23% to 39%. Ralph lives with Angina and the cardiac rehabilitation sessions have supported him to understand how to manage his symptoms when he’s physically active.

The side effects of Ralph’s multiple health conditions and the medication he takes include weight loss, loss of balance, disrupted sleep and feeling lethargic, yet despite the challenges Ralph faces, he strives to lead an active lifestyle.


Ralph loves being in the water and aims to swim at his local leisure centre twice a week. After his heart bypass, Ralph started by swimming a few lengths. He’s slowly increased this over time and has built up to swimming half a mile. “Even if I don’t feel so good, I still try to go because I always feel the benefits after,” he says.

Ralph adds movement into his daily routine by walking to and from town, and when at home he enjoys tending to his garden and doing DIY projects. Ralph continues to try new experiences and has tried tandem cycling at Witton Cycling Centre, participated in the Great North Swim, had ski lessons with Disability Snowsports UK, and has even participated in a charity abseil.

Despite the adversity he has faced, Ralph finds strength in focusing on what he can do rather than on what he can’t.