THREE heart attacks in a row failed to stop dry stone waller Lee Jones completing a 44-metre stretch of wall.

The 43-year-old from Shipley was supposed to be off work for 12 weeks but returned after only one week saying he would have “climbed walls being stuck inside for that period of time”.

Now he has been named winner of the CLA’s 2016 Millennium Wall competition. It is the second consecutive time he has won the award in which he was also runner-up in 2012.

He received the latest title in recognition of building a continuous stretch of curved wall skirting a large circular crater – accessing it only from one side and without the use of string lines – on Keith Willis’ Beacon House Farm, near Otley.

The eight-week job saw him having to work facing down a slope – and survive the three heart attacks at once.

“Being a waller is physically hard work, and necessity dictates that you can’t really be off work for too long,” he said. “On the plus side, my heart is exceptionally strong according to the cardiologist, all thanks to being a waller.”

He first took an interest in dry stone walling more than 20 years ago when doing a BTEC Diploma in upland resource management at Craven College. Combined with his passions of wildlife and the great outdoors, he found walling to be just the job for him.

He said: “It is a great honour to be judged winner of this prestigious award for a second time, and good to see that the CLA recognises traditional rural skills and crafts.”

John Pridmore, head judge from the Yorkshire Dry Stone Walling Guild, said: “The wall was well packed to ensure a solid construction and it was obvious that time and care had been taken in shaping the coping stones, which ran evenly along the top. Lee faced many challenges such as building only from one side, and maintaining a steady curve is quite a feat.”

Dorothy Fairburn, CLA North director, said: “Lee is a worthy double-winner, and we thank the Guild for judging this competition.”

Runner-up was Michael Coggins of Ingleton near Carnforth, who restored a 16.5-metre stretch of roadside wall made from irregular shaped stones, which had been demolished by a lorry.

The competition is believed to be unique in Britain as it judges new or rebuilt walls in the countryside, and is not a contest between wallers building temporary short stretches at agricultural shows.