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Stoke Newington pair conquer swim fears to raise £42,000 for paralysed pal who had no holiday insurance

PUBLISHED: 16:28 15 October 2018 | UPDATED: 12:25 16 October 2018

Defrim Valteri, or Duffy, recovering in hospital

Defrim Valteri, or Duffy, recovering in hospital

Richard Rogers

Two men have conquered their fear of swimming to take the plunge and raise £42,000 for their friend who was paralysed on holiday this summer.

Defrim Valteri, or Duffy, recovering in hospitalDefrim Valteri, or Duffy, recovering in hospital

Stoke Newington joiners Richard Rogers, 45, and Ben Mulhern, 44, will swim 25 lengths of Clissord Leisure Centre’s pool for Defrim Valteri, 43.

The father-of-one known as Duffy miscalculated a dive off a small pier while on holiday in his home country Albania with his family in August, and broke his neck in three places.

He was airlifted to hospital and because he had not taken out holiday insurance, his family had to pay £17,000 for an emergency operation.

Chartering a jet to bring him back to the UK cost a further £25,000, and is now recovering in hospital in Isleworth.

Richard Rogers and Ben Mulhern who have learnt how to swim to raise money for their paralysed friendRichard Rogers and Ben Mulhern who have learnt how to swim to raise money for their paralysed friend

Rich and Ben hope to cover the costs through their swim and have already raised more than £21,000. Six weeks ago the pair had never been in a pool, but they have supported each other in overcoming their fears and have practiced every night after work.

Rich, who has worked with Duffy for 15 years, said: “I was devastated by the news of what happened to Duffy. He was a fearless and productive worker always putting in the necessary graft to get a job done. It is his loyalty and friendship that I intend to honour by raising some money to help him and his family through these difficult times.

“His wife Beata not only has to look after their three-year-old son and 17-year-old daughter but will also have to pay the mortgage and bills as well as worrying about Duffy and his welfare. They all face a difficult future and I am determined to do all I can to help them.”

Duffy is now able to breathe unaided thanks to a pacemaker, but can still not speak or walk.

Defrim Valteri, or Duffy, recovering in hospital Defrim Valteri, or Duffy, recovering in hospital

Richard added: “We both can’t swim and that’s a challenge for us, but Duffy has a challenge to walk again. In fact, Duffy is the only one of us that could swim.”

The pair will take the plunge on October 26 at midday. To donate see bit.ly/2AbH8Y8.

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