1,000-mile cycle ride boosts hospital funds

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A PARAMEDIC who lost more than half of his body weight through cycling to work has now biked 1,000 miles from London to Nice to raise £500 for The Children’s Hospital in Sheffield.

Gary Matthews put on almost 12 stones after two football accidents left him unable to exercise.

But when the 43-year-old tipped the scales at 27 stones, he decided he wanted to change his career from being a hospital porter to being a paramedic and began cycling to work every day to shed the weight.

The father-of-one said: “From the age of 18 I worked as a hospital porter and I’d always been inspired by the work of the paramedics.

“I knew that if I wanted to become one, I would have to lose the weight.

“Not only that, I found out in 2002 that my wife was pregnant. I wanted to be an active father, not a fat one.

“No matter how heavy I got I always enjoyed a good bike ride, so it seemed the ideal way to exercise.

“I lost seven stones in just nine months of cycling, then the rest over the next few years.”

Ten years later, after losing 12-and-a-half stones and successfully securing a career as a paramedic working for East Midlands Ambulance Service, Gary was offered the chance to cycle the 1,000 miles as a medic on standby for a British Army troop.

“The cycling expedition seemed the ideal way to celebrate my weight loss,” he said.

As a child, Mr Matthews underwent 13 operations at The Children’s Hospital, Sheffield for an ear condition, and then went on to work as a porter at the hospital for more than 10 years.

“To use the bike ride as an opportunity to raise money for The Children’s Hospital Charity was almost second nature to me,” he said.