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Dad's the word for Bexley cyclist

PUBLISHED: 09:53 07 February 2013 | UPDATED: 09:53 07 February 2013

Joanne Bradley going up the Himalayas

Joanne Bradley going up the Himalayas

Archant

The pedalling exploits of Joanne Bradley, completing 750 miles cycling on two continents, are changing the life of her dad Frank, 16 years after he was struck down by locked-in syndrome.

Joanne Bradley with her father FrankJoanne Bradley with her father Frank

The Bexley 26-year-old raised just over £3,000 by cycling from London to Paris (301 miles) and through the Himalayas in Nepal (around 445 miles) to buy a special motorised bike for Frank. It has already eased the stiffness in his legs, weakened by inactivity caused by a stroke that devastated Frank while in the prime of his life.

Joanne and her three siblings chose not to buy the hands-free communicating machine, called Headmouse Technology, she had planned to when she talked to the Bexley Times last summer because they thought the bike would suit her dad’s needs better.

But the 26-year-old says she has been overwhelmed by the generosity of people who donated and would do it all over again if it could help her dad.

“Although this wasn’t what I initially set out to raise money for, it’s quite apt I ended up getting him a bike and it’s probably the best present I could have ever given him. Cycling is a huge part of my life and it’s great to be able to share it with him now.

“I got donations from people I’ve never met before which was amazing.

“Nepal is a great country to visit, especially when you’re going around by bike as you see so much more of it. Doing it for my hero, my dad, made it like killing two birds with one stone.

“He’s only had it for two weeks, but you can see the smile on his face every time he goes on it and it’s decreasing the stiffness in his legs and they don’t go into spasm as much as they used to.”

The bike, which used up all of the money raised, has a motor which notices when pressure is placed on the pedals. The motor stops and when it notices pressure taken off, it kicks in again and moves his legs for him.

Frank, who is now 54, is completely aware of what is going on around him, but he is essentially a prisoner in his own body, with communication limited to blinking and lip reading methods.

“The bike really helps his muscles. It’s stationary, but it’s great for him to feel like his legs are doing some exercise and to get them moving.

“He tells me he loves the bike and he’s on it almost every day. He’s really grateful for all the work I’ve done to make this happen.”

Joanne started fundraising at a young age after Frank suffered his stroke – holding a sponsored swim aged 11 to buy a CD player for him.

It hasn’t been non-stop ever since, but whenever her dad has needed anything outside of her family’s financial means, the Thames 21 employee has been willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done.

And Joanne hasn’t ruled out more extreme challenges in the future.

“There are modifications which can be made to the bike to help dad even more, but they’ll probably cost around £1,500 – not cheap.

“I’ve emailed everyone individually to say thanks and keep an eye out for future announcements.

“I might need a little while longer to recover from Nepal first. The conditions were hard,” added Joanne. “It really tested the legs as I’d never been off-road cycling, so I had to do a lot of training in the months before.

“Thankfully a friend from my bike club came along for moral support.”

Do you know a local hero who we can feature? Email robin.cottle@bexleytimes.co.

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