A POWER station worker who underwent major heart surgery has completed an epic charity cycle ride with colleagues.
Bryan O’Donoghue, 42, John Wood, 33, and Aaron Dormer, 26, a team of Hartlepool Power Station engineers, took on a mammoth Coast to Coast challenge in France.
They started on the Atlantic coast, in Saint Jean De Luz, and finished on the Mediterranean coast, in Argeles sur Mer.
The feat, which has so far raised £2,500 for Marie Curie Cancer Care, chosen charity of power station owners EDF Energy, involved 450 miles cycled over seven days with two to three major climbs each day.
The group covered some of Europe’s most gruelling road climbs, including two hours and 16 minutes of uphill cycling on Col du Tourmelet, a cyclist’s “rite of passage” road in the Pyrenees, pushing the amateur cyclists to their limits.
It was a particularly triumphant milestone for Bryan, as this year marks the five-year anniversary of him having major heart surgery.
The dad-of-two, from Bishop Cuthbert, Hartlepool, said: “Our team completed the trip without any mishaps, I was delighted that for myself, my dream of completing a once-in-a-lifetime cycling challenge has been fulfilled.
“In 2009 I underwent open heart surgery, I vowed then that I would come back and undertake a coast to coast ride for charity.
“I just didn’t realise that it would be in France!”
In 2009, Bryan discovered he had an aneurysm, having managed to keep what he thought was a hole in the heart under control for 12 years.
His wife Michelle had urged him to see the doctor, as he had become breathless and couldn’t exercise.
But medics urged him to have surgery immediately after diagnosing an aneurysm.
“It was lucky it didn’t burst or I would have been dead immediately,” said Bryan.
“My heart was enlarged and if I hadn’t done anything about it, it would have caused more problems.
“I’m grateful that my wife insisted I go for a check-up.”
On December 15, 2009, he had his operation and three days later, doctors were amazed by his rate of recovery.
Since then, Bryan has vowed to increase his fitness, and is even doing triathlons.
He thanked Cheryl Laycock at the High Tunstall Life Centre for helping him on the road to fitness.
Bryan hailed all who have backed the ride, saying: ““Thank you to everyone for your support, we are continuing to collect in our sponsorship to ensure we can fund as many nursing hours as possible.
“Please help us raise much needed funds for Marie Curie, to help those who are in need.
“Please remember that all of the money we raise will go to Marie Curie, with the added bonus of every pound being matched by EDF Energy.”
Marie Curie fundraiser Kyla Collins said: “We’d like to say a huge thank you to EDF and to Bryan, Aaron and John for taking on this challenge in support of our local Marie Curie Nurses.
“It costs £20 to fund one hour of Marie Curie nursing care so you can see how much this money will support the services here, its fantastic. Thank you.”