A Burnham-On-Sea pensioner is planning to cycle coast-to-coast across northern England to raise money for a hospital which saved his life.

John Simmons, 77, was an indoor rowing world champion in the over-70s category when he was diagnosed with cancer.

He was diagnosed with Mantle Cell Lymphoma shortly after returning from the world championships and was told that without immediate treatment his life expectancy could be reduced to a matter of weeks.

“To say I was shocked would be a gross understatement,” he says. “Beyond the odd pulled muscle and an annual flu jab, I had always been extremely fit and well.”

“When the news broke I thought of my family, not least my five little grandchildren, all boys, and each one an absolute joy. The thought that I might not watch them grow was difficult to contemplate. However, the Oncology Unit at Weston Super Mare Hospital responded brilliantly and after twelve months of intensive chemotherapy I feel fit and well, and my cancer is currently in remission.”

“I can’t place a value on the gift I’ve received, and I am left with a debt of gratitude to the hospital that I can never repay. However, I hope by raising funds I can at least contribute towards the needs of others who require similar treatment to mine.”

The Oncology Unit at Weston Hospital treated him and after a year of intensive chemotherapy he says he now feels fit and well, and his cancer is in remission.

He has therefore decided to take part in a coast-to-coast cycling challenge to raise funds for Weston General Hospital as a thank you to them.

John will cycle the 138 mile route from Workington in Cumbria to the mouth of the River Tyne in Newcastle, setting off on Thursday June 5th. To sponsor him, visit his Just Giving page here.