Burnley to Corfu charity bike ride ready for the off

John Wilson prepares to set-off on his cycle ride from Burnley to Greece in aid of the British Heart Foundation watched by store manager Caroline Hilton and fundraising manager for Lancashire Barbara Dunn.
John Wilson prepares to set-off on his cycle ride from Burnley to Greece in aid of the British Heart Foundation watched by store manager Caroline Hilton and fundraising manager for Lancashire Barbara Dunn.

A cyclist from Burnley is about to embark on a 2,000-mile bike ride to the Greek island of Corfu to raise money for the British Heart Foundation.

John Wilson (55), from Ightenhill, will start the gruelling challenge on Monday at 8am from the charity’s main shop in the town.

The charity really helped me to get through this time, and I’m one of those people who believes that if you take something, you should give something back

John Wilson

He will then cycle on to London, where he will visit the British Heart Foundation’s main headquarters, before pedalling through France and into Switzerland.

Then comes the most demanding part of it all, a 7,000 ft climb over the Alps before coming down the other side of the mountain range and into Milan.

Finally he will cycle through Italy and catch a ferry to Corfu where he will bike over more mountains before finally completing the journey in the beach resort of Arillas.

The journey is expected to take 34 days. John, who is a full-time student at Accrington and Rossendale College, suffered a heart attack back in 2012 while climbing Scafell Pike and had to be airlifted to hospital in Carlisle.

John says he decided to raise the money for the British Heart Foundation as a thank you for the help he received from the charity in the aftermath of his heart attack.

John said: “Afterwards I went into a severe stage of depression because I was gutted it happened to me.

“I was shocked, because I don’t smoke and I drink in moderation. I then had to go into counselling and also went onto gym on prescription.

“The charity really helped me to get through this time, and I’m one of those people who believes that if you take something, you should give something back.”

John’s wife Shirley lost her dad to a heart attack when he died suddenly in 2008, another reason why the charity is close to his heart.

Barbara Dunn, who is fund-raising manager at BHF, says that the charity is extremely proud of John. “It’s an amazing thing that he’s doing,” she said. “Hopefully he can inspire people to volunteer and fund-raise for us as we’re always looking for more people to help us raise money.

“The money that John’s raising will help thousands of people across the country.”

John has already managed to raise more than £6,000 and is hoping to raise even more while he’s on the journey.

Anyone can donate by visiting John’s website at www.burnleytredz.co.uk and you can also watch his incredible journey live via a camera fitted to the bike.