China trek for brave trike man

PUBLISHED: 11:25 21 September 2006 | UPDATED: 14:49 12 May 2010

Andy Lee on his Powertrike with his assistance dog Henry - Pic: Dick Harding

Andy Lee on his Powertrike with his assistance dog Henry - Pic: Dick Harding

A PARALYSED man will take part in the challenge of a lifetime - in the memory of his late partner and to raise money for charity. Andy Lee will travel 400 km across the rough and unpredictable terrain of Northern Beijing in the 2006 China Bike Ride. The r

A PARALYSED man will take part in the challenge of a lifetime - in the memory of his late partner and to raise money for charity.

Andy Lee will travel 400 km across the rough and unpredictable terrain of Northern Beijing in the 2006 China Bike Ride.

The ride will test the toughest of cyclists, but for tetraplegic Mr Lee, it will be even more of a challenge.

In 1994, Mr Lee broke his neck after flipping over the handlebars of his bike.

Despite wearing a helmet, the fall broke his neck and gave him severe high spinal cord injuries that left his arms and legs paralysed.

Mr Lee, who was a Metropolitan Police sergeant at the time of the accident, said: "I went from able-bodied to paralysed just like that. I had to fight for my life and was lucky to survive."

A lot of doors closed for Mr Lee, shattering dreams of promotion and his passion for cycling.

But he is now involved with various charities, including Dogs for the Disabled, and thanks to a specially designed trike, is back on the road, and close to fulfilling his ambition of visiting China.

Mr Lee also puts his remarkable progress down to the help he has received from the charity Regain, that supports tetraplegics injured in sporting and leisure activity accidents.

Mr Lee, 43, of Town Green Road, Orwell, said: "Regain is a small organisation, but the help and support it offers is fantastic."

The charity has helped Mr Lee to pay for computer equipment and a powered wheelchair.

It has also paid for the pioneering PowerTrike adaption that Mr Lee will use to ride through Beijing.

The PowerTrike is a small motorised unit that can be added to the front of any wheelchair and has given father-of-two Mr Lee a new lease of independence and freedom.

He said: "It can do 16mph and gives me the feeling of riding again. And that's a great feeling I never thought I would experience again."

"My daughter has been out cycling with me during my preparation, which is again something I never thought I would be able to do. It's been really nice to share that experience with her and I think they are both excited for me," he said.

He will join more than 50 other able-bodied and tetraplegics on the start line in Beijing.

He said: "I want to raise awareness for the charity and raise funds to help other tetraplegics. With my limited movement it's going to be a really difficult and it will be a very tough challenge both physically and mentally.

The other inspiration behind Mr Lee's challenge is the memory of his late partner Sally Mendham, who passed away last year.

Mr Lee said: "Sally was Regain's carer of the year in 2004, and she helped me so much. The ride is partly in her memory, as a thank you for all her support.

"She would have been the first person behind me on this and would have been with me all of the way. Sally always encouraged and supported everything that I did and I think she would be very proud."

Before his accident, Mr Lee regularly took part in the London to Brighton bike ride. "Doing an event like this will bring back some fond memories," he said.

"I'm getting on with life and I'm reasonably independent. This is certainly the most daunting thing I have done since the injury, but I know that I can do it."

- The China Ride will start on October 14 at Mutianyu and the famous Great Wall and finish on October 23 in Sygiman Square.

Mr Lee is looking to raise £5,000 and if you would like to help him reach this target visit www.justgiving.com/ridechina and for more information on spinal injuries visit www.spinal-injury.net

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