AN almost blind pensioner will make a splash when he swims a mile across Windermere for charity.

And 67-year-old Ralph Ellis is hoping he can raise more than just a drop in the ocean for the British Red Cross’ Lancashire Youth and Schools Team.

Mr Ellis, from Darwen, has signed up for the Great North Swim, on Saturday, June 14, to raise cash for the charity he has volunteered with for 27 years.

But the challenge is no mean feat for the retired construction manager, whose deteriorating eyes forced him to quit his snorkelling hobby more than three years ago.

Now Mr Ellis, who has to walk with a white stick, has one glass eye, and only limited vision in the other.

Mr Ellis, of Ambleside Drive, who is married to Patricia, and has four grandchildren, said he had to lower his ambitions because of his health problems in the past.

He said: “I was going to do two miles.

“But I have already had one heart attack and I have angina as well, so I opted for one mile.”

Mr Ellis has been training in Salford Quays once or twice a week.

He also swims at Darwen Leisure Centre, and Waves, in Blackburn, to keep himself fit.

He said: “I used to do scuba diving, and I had snorkelled since 1972.

“I used to run Darwen Snorkelling Club, but I had not been in open water for three-and-a half years.

“I had to stop because I was having serious eye problems.”

Mr Ellis said he hoped to raise £500 for the Red Cross’ Schools and Youth Team.

He said: “We do work with children of all ages all over East Lancashire.

“It is all about enlightening them about the future, and we talk about ways to keep them safe, as well as teaching them first aid.”

To sponsor Mr Ellis visit