Active Tommy Richardson has praised surgeons for helping him to waterski again at the age of 81.
Tommy, who still works full time in the family coach business and turns 82 in November, was left crippled with pain from arthritis for a number of years.
But the former waterskiing champion has been given a new lease of life after having both his hips replaced.
He recently got back on the water for the first time after previously thinking he would never ski again.
Tommy, who is president of Tees and Hartlepool Yacht Club, suffered for five years with his arthritis, but the last year before his ops was the most painful.
He said: “I couldn’t walk at the finish I was that bad. I had two walking sticks and people pushing me round in a wheelchair.”
I thought I would never ski again because I was in so much pain.Tommy Richardson, aged 81
He last went waterskiing with his three grandsons nine months before his first operation.
“I thought I would never ski again because I was in so much pain,” said Tommy. “I thought it was all over.”
Tommy had his first hip replacement operation in June 2013 at the University Hospital of Hartlepool, carried out by surgeon Mr Ahmad.
He had his second bout of surgery in October of the same year by Raj Logishetty and felt the benefits immediately.
Tommy said: “I was in no pain at all, it was wonderful. I can’t believe the difference.”
And he is full of praise for the surgeons and staff for the care he received on the hospital’s Ward 4.
Tommy added: “The staff from top to bottom were absolutely unbelievable. They really looked after me.”
He made his first tentative return to the water at the Tees Barrage two weeks ago.
He said: “I was a little bit apprehensive at first, but I plucked up the courage.
“I didn’t think I could do it, but it was wonderful. It’s something I’ve done most of my life.”
Tommy first waterskied on Lake Windermere in 1955 and was hooked. He went on to become British Senior Champion in 1966 and 1968.
He has also taught hundreds of people to ski as a successful coach and even made homemade skis for friends and family.
Tommy and Barbara, his wife of 56 years, were the first to ski in Hartlepool Bay.
All of their children – Derek, 55, David, 52 and Dianne, 47 – ski as well as their five grandchildren.
Tommy has thrown himself into a host of other sports throughout his life including roller hockey, squash, basketball, water polo, table tennis, football and sailing.