Couple prepare for bike challenge

A HUSBAND and wife are getting on their bikes for one of the great cycling challenges - to ride the length of the country.

A HUSBAND and wife are getting on their bikes for one of the great cycling challenges - to ride the length of the country.

But while Liz and Peter Ashford's marathon trip from Land's End to John O'Groats should be great fun, it has a serious side too, as they will be sponsored to raise money for the Stroke Association.

Mrs Ashford, a registered nurse and owner of a weight loss consultancy business in Woodbridge, has very personal reasons for supporting the charity.

She has seen the devastating effects of stroke first hand as her father suffered a series of strokes and died on her 40th birthday. She also has friends who have suffered strokes.

Mrs Ashford said: “Many people think strokes only affect much older people but this is absolutely not true.

“I think that a stroke can be far worse than heart attack, and yet compared to heart attacks it is the poor relation in the NHS and doesn't get the attention it deserves.”

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A stroke can happen to anyone at any time, and around a quarter of strokes happen to those aged under 65.

Mrs Ashford and her GP locum husband Peter are currently on track with a gruelling training schedule which involves regular 50 mile bike rides and gym visits.

Although feeling “slightly anxious” about the challenge, Mrs Ashford, introduced to serious cycling five years ago by her brother who is a keen cyclist, has previously completed other long distance cycle rides and the London Marathon.

The couple, who live in Melton, will set off on May 14 and should finish by June 5.

Tracey Barker, regional communications officer for the Stroke Association, said the organisation was the only national charity solely concerned with combating stroke in people of all ages.

“We are truly delighted and overwhelmed by the tremendous support being given by Liz and Peter Ashford to both help raise our profile and much needed funds in this very fitting way,” she said.

Are you taking part in a charity event? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

FASTFACTS: Strokes

Stroke is the leading cause of adult disability and a recent National Audit Office Report calculated that in England alone there are 900,000 stroke survivors, and around 500,000 people are dealing with some form of disability as a consequence.

A stroke is a brain equivalent of a heart attack. A stroke can be diagnosed by using FAST - Facial weakness, Arm weakness, Speech Problems, Test all three. If these symptoms are present call an ambulance straight away.

A stroke happens when the blood supply to part of the brain is disrupted - most occur when a blood clot blocks the flow of blood to the brain. Some strokes are fatal while others can cause permanent or temporary disabilities such as paralysis.

Strokes can be prevented through lifestyle factors such as a healthy diet - particularly reducing salt intake, drinking alcohol in moderation, not smoking and taking regular exercise.

Each year an estimated 150,000 people in the UK have a stroke.

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