A PENSIONER from Burnham is planning to cycle coast-to-coast to raise money for the hospital that saved his life.

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

Mr Simmons said: “I was diagnosed with cancer shortly after returning from the world championships. I was told that without immediate treatment my life expectancy could be reduced to a matter weeks.”

He said: “To say I was shocked would be a gross understatement. Beyond the odd pulled muscle and an annual flu jab, I had always been extremely fit and well and had not seen a doctor for more years than I can remember.

“When I was told 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 Hospital responded brilliantly and after 12 months of intensive chemotherapy I feel fit and well, and my cancer is currently in remission.

“I needed to get some semblance of fitness back so I thought I might as well use it for the hospital. I decided to take this coast to coast challenge and I’m raising the funds for Weston General Hospital.

“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. I hope by raising funds I can at least contribute towards helping others who require similar treatment.”

John plans to cycle 138 miles from Workington in Cumbria to the mouth of the River Tyne in Newcastle, setting off next Thursday.

He said: “This route that I’m doing is an off-road challenge so it’s going to be pretty tough. I trained by going up the Brent Knoll and Cheddar Gorge.”

Visit his Just Giving page at justgiving.com/John-Simmons1