- Phil Hunt has suffered the disorder since 2003
- It means he can't control when he falls asleep
- 60 yr old hired swimming minder after he dozed off and fell in the water
By Ian Garland
PUBLISHED: 11:59 EST, 5 August 2012 | UPDATED: 09:10 EST, 6 August 2012
A champion angler who suffers from narcolepsy has been forced to hire a minder to stop him from drowning.
The disorder means Phil Hunt, 60 from Beechdale, Notts, can't stop himself from falling asleep.
He has dozed off in public, in the back of taxis and once had to be fished out of a river after nodding off during an angling contest.
Fisherman Phil Hunt from Nottingham has suffered narcolepsy since 2003
Mr Hunt is so scared he'll drown the next time he tumbles into the water, he now wears a lifejacket on the riverbank and makes sure he's accompanied by a strong swimmer.
The former university lecturer explained: 'People think I'm mad because the last place someone who falls asleep a lot should be near is water but I love fishing - it's my life.
'I take sensible precautions and always make sure I have a friend who can swim to keep an eye on me from the riverbank just in case.
'The other anglers sometimes wonder what's going on when I've clearly got a bite but I don't reel the fish in because I'm slumped asleep in my chair.
'I've only fallen in once which was more embarrassing than anything else. My mate soon pulled me out and I dried off and carried on fishing."
High price: The condition cost Mr Hunt his job as a university lecturer
Mr Hunt's condition means he has dozed through entire angling contests, but it hasn't stop him landing dozens of trophies for his club.
But despite missing out on numerous big catches he has still landed dozens of trophies for his fishing club.
Phil was diagnosed with narcolepsy in 2003 after he became hooked on prescription painkillers following a botched operation on his colon.
The condition is sparked by strong emotions such as laughter, sadness or stress.
Phil took up angling again in a bid to control his condition because of the relaxing nature of the sport.
But after joining the Crown Inn fishing team in Beeston, Notts., Phil won dozens of competitions and is now their best angler.
But his condition has had a debilitating effect on his private life and the strain ended his marriage of 12 years.
On another occasion, Phil even fell asleep in the back of a taxi with his eyes open - causing the driver to rush him to hospital because he thought he was dead.
He said: 'The driver couldn't wake me up and thought I was dead. I woke up when he was trying to wrestle me out of the taxi and into a hospital.
'He was shocked when I woke up in his arms with a start. But I explained I had narcolepsy and he took me home.
'He still charged me the extra fare though - I couldn't believe it.'
He was even forced to quit his job as a university lecturer after he fell asleep in front of his students who believed he was drunk.
Phil was trained to guard the Queen and patrolled in a bearskin at the trooping of the colour outside Buckingham Palace in the 1960s before serving in Northern Ireland.
He retired in the 1990s and became a computing lecturer at Nottingham University until he was struck down with narcolepsy.
Dr William Kinnear, a consultant physician at Nottingham University Hospitals, said: "It is a very rare but fascinating disease which blurs the line between dreams and consciousness.
'The cause of the disorder has been linked to the lack of a hormone in the brain called hypocretin. There are effective drugs on the market to help with this very rare disorder.'
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