'Inspirational' maths teacher's epic cycle ride after health scare

Suffolk New College lecturer Mark Cornish 

Suffolk New College lecturer Mark Cornish - Credit: Suffolk New College

A maths teacher is preparing to take on a 600km bike ride as part of his effort to clock up 10,000km just three years after suffering a heart attack.

Mark Cornish, a GCSE maths lecturer at Suffolk New College, decided to do something for his long term health after being the youngest cardiac patient on the ward by about 16 years.

The 47-year-old, from Witnesham, developed a pain in his chest while walking across Alexandra Park in February 2018.

He was able to get to the reception area of the college, where his colleague, Nell Burnett, helped save his life.

Suffolk New College lecturer Mark Cornish and Nell Burnett

Suffolk New College lecturer Mark Cornish with colleague Nell Burnett - Credit: Suffolk New College

Thanks to her early efforts and the work of paramedics, Mr Cornish made it to Papworth Hospital to start his recovery.

“Looking back and talking to my cardiologist, I’m very lucky how it turned out," he said. 

"I owe Nell so much. When I see her at the college, I always call her my life saver.

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“When I was in hospital, I just thought I’ve got to do something to get fit.

“So, when I started to improve, I purchased a bike on the ‘bike to work scheme’ and my interest in cycling has gone from there."

Mr Cornish took took part in a London to Brighton ride for the British Heart Foundation and raised £1,600 in 2019.

The distances continued growing until he completed a personal record of 430km in one day, which he intends to smash later this month with a 600km ride to Yorkshire and back – one of three challenges he set himself this year through the long distance cycling association, Audax UK.

He added: “After raising money for the British Heart Foundation, I still wear charity jerseys now and again when I’m cycling, but these challenges are for me personally. 

"My wife, Denise, has been very supportive – I don’t think she would be happy if I wanted to do this next year, but she gets why I’m doing this.

"Every week, we cycle in to work together and it’s my favourite journey of the week.

“I think mentally, and for getting things in perspective, cycling gives you a focus and it’s a great thing to do."

Marketing manager from the college, Craig Shimmon said Mr Cornish's courage, determination and resilience were an "inspiration to everyone".

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