A FREEMASON who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis helped team England rank fourth in the World Para Surfing Championships. 

Mark Hagger, of Bournemouth, competed at the six-day competition at Huntington Beach in Surf City, California, earlier this month. 

Competing against 27 other nations in 25C heat, the competition saw 124 surfers battle against one another with conditions such as missing limbs and cerebral palsy. 

All surfers were self-funded adding to the pressure of performing to the best of their ability and making it count for their respective country. 

Before Mark was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, he was active playing football, rugby, golf and motorbikes. 

He thought at the time it was the end of his sporting life when MS slowly took those sports away from him. 

He said being able to surf again gives him the hunger to push himself further – and representing England was a “very proud moment” in his life. 

Mark said: “It is scary when you can't rely on your body to get yourself out of trouble, you put your faith in your teammates to get to you before you drown. 

“Not one person backed down from the surf. They faced their fears head-on.” 

Mark works for Bournemouth and Poole College in the electrical apprenticeship team but before that, he was a lecturer in construction for seven years.  

The England Team took one gold medal, two silvers and a world ranking of fourth overall, beating big hitters like Australia, Hawaii and South Africa,  

Mark had the privilege of being the England Team Captain and achieving the highest-ever position for any Surfing England team.  

This places them in good stead for the Para Olympics in 2028, when they will become ‘Surfing Great Britain’.