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Bexley woman cycles for dad

Frank and Joanne Bradley

Frank and Joanne Bradley

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A Bexley woman has taken on a mammoth cycling challenge to raise money for her dad, who suffers from locked-in syndrome following a stroke.

Fifteen years ago the Bradley family’s lives changed forever when dad Frank suffered a stroke, resulting in locked-in syndrome.

He is fully aware but can only communicate using machines which let him text but which are slow and frustrating to use.

Seeing her father struggle each day was heartbreaking for his daughter Joanne.

Wondering how she could help, the 26-year-old thought of taking on cycling challenges to raise money for state-of-the art equipment which will help not only her dad but others in the same situation.

The hands-free machines are operated by head movement and are far quicker, meaning communication can flow much more freely. But they cost £500 and are not funded by the NHS.

Joanne completed the first of her long distance trips in June. Setting off from London to Paris, she travelled a gruelling 301 miles over four days with soaring hills and bad weather to contend with.

Now the fitness fanatic is gearing up for the next challenge around Nepal in October when she will negotiate 445 miles of Nepali roads, dirt tracks, mountain passes and tropical plains.

She said: “My dad’s stroke had a big impact on our family life. Growing up was pretty different, shall we say.

“Despite all the challenges and frustrations that my dad faces every minute of every day, he never complains about his condition.

“He is proud of what I’m doing and impressed with the distances. I keep him updated on how fundraising is going. London to Paris was one of the best things I have ever done. I did it with my cycling group Limited Edition who are based in Eltham. Having a group kept me going through the really hard parts.”

Joanne began fundraising from a young age- shortly after her father had his stroke the then 11-year-old completed a sponsored swim to raise money for a CD player so that he could listen to music.

Over the years she has raised money for many different national charities with rowing challenges and runs but this time she wanted to focus on something far closer to her heart.

“Charity starts at home and I just wanted to do something that would really help my dad now.

“The CD player was 15 years ago and we can all see how technology has moved on. My dad can communicate now but it’s very time consuming for him. I have never met anyone else that has Locked-In Syndrome but the charity which buys these machines was set up by a lady who had it but recovered from it. It’s good to know you can get better from a stroke.”

Joanne, who has three siblings, is hoping to raise as much as she can to buy as many machines as possible. They already have enough for four, having raised £2,000.

Looking to the future she said: “I am really looking forward to Nepal. It will be challenging. The terrain is hard. But I have always wanted to go so I thought what better than to kill two birds with one stone?”

To sponsor Joanne visit www.gofundme.com/help-my-hero. To find out more about the machines visit www.fightingstrokes.org.

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