Richard rides to fight back against heart disease

Richard Smallbone has wanted to take part in the London To Brighton, British Heart Foundation's flaship event, for a very long time
Richard Smallbone has wanted to take part in the London To Brighton, British Heart Foundation's flaship event, for a very long time

Littlehampton dad Richard Smallbone is taking on a big cycling challenge after seeing his daughter go through heart surgery.

He has wanted to take part in the London to Brighton Bike Ride, British Heart Foundation’s flaship event, for a very long time but was never been brave enough to enter until this year.

Richard, 48, started cycling regularly last summer as a way to lose some weight. He is now cycling about 15 miles at least four times a week and this has given him the courage to enter the 54-mile fundraising event.

He is spurred on by his daughter, Hope, who was diagnosed with an abnormal fast heart rhythm five years ago, at the age of 15. She had to undergo surgery to treat her supraventricular tachycardia (SVT) at the age of 19.

Richard said: “When my daughter Hope was diagnosed, I was so scared. Even simple things such as going for a walk could be risky for her.

“When we were told that she needed surgery just as she was about to begin university, it threw our lives upside down. Luckily, the surgery was a success and she has fully recovered and has even decided study to become a cardiology nurse.

“When I said I was cycling the London to Brighton bike ride for the British Heart Foundation, messages came flooding in filled with support and how they had been affected by heart and circulatory diseases. That is why I signed up, because heart disease can affect anyone at any age and this is my way of fighting back.”

Richard will be joining around 15,000 cyclists of all abilities for the event on June 17, starting at Clapham Common and riding through the Sussex countryside to Brighton’s seafront.

Now in its 43rd year, the London to Brighton bike ride is Europe’s oldest charity cycling event and over the years has seen cyclists raise nearly £70million for the fight against heart disease. This year it is hoped the event will raise around £3million for the foundation’s vital work.

Richard said: “I was down at Brighton beach last year as a spectator. The atmosphere is fantastic and everyone can do it, whether you have a time to beat or just want to take in the stunning views along the route.

“The London to Brighton Bike Ride is not a race. It doesn’t matter whether you come first or last, all that matters is you take part to help beat heart disease.”

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Elizabeth Tack, event lead, said: “Challenging yourself to the London to Brighton Bike Ride is a fantastic way to support the nation’s heart charity and save.

“There are over 940,000 people in the south east alone living with the burden of heart and circulatory disease, so we really appreciate BHF champions like Richard, who take on this challenge and raise money for our heart research.

“We would like to see even more people join us on what will be a fantastic and fun-filled day. Every mile you bike, you will be bringing us closer to beating heart disease for good.

“Our research has already helped halve death rates from heart and circulatory disease since the BHF was established in 1951, but there is still so much more to be done.“

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