Andy heads to China for wheelchair challenge


ANDY Lee may have broken his neck but the injury is proving no obstacle to his ambition to travel 400km across China in a wheelchair.
The 42-year-old former Metropolitan police officer was cycling uphill in the countryside 12 years ago when he went head-first over the handlebars of his mountain bike.
He was wearing a helmet, which he later discovered had saved his life, but it was not enough to protect his neck.
The dad-of-two was airlifted to hospital where he was diagnosed as suffering from tetraplegia - high spinal cord injury - and paralysis in four limbs.
It was a year before Andy was discharged from hospital. He was forced to give up work - and his hopes of being promoted to the rank of inspector.
But 12 years on, despite severe physical impairment, Andy will be joining 30 able-bodied cyclists in a 400km ride in October through the Beijing region of China.
He will travel on a specially adapted Powertrike - a wheelchair with a motorised section at the front - which can move at 16mph.
His aim is to raise as much money as possible for Regain - a UK spinal injuries charity.
Andy, who is helped in his day-to- day life by four-year-old assistance dog Henry at his home in Orwell, near Royston, admits the trek will be physically tough, but just sees it as the next in a line of challenges he has to face.
He said: "A lot of doors closed on me when I first had my injury - but many more opened.
"As my spinal cord injury happened while cycling, this challenge and fundraising means a great deal to me on a personal level.
"I'm reasonably apprehensive, but I've done quite a lot of training around nearby villages with able- bodied cyclists and they complain they can't keep up."
Money raised from Andy's efforts will help tetraplegics who have sustained their injuries in sporting or leisure accidents.
He said: "Regain has helped me fund computer equipment and a powered wheelchair in the past and I want to raise funds to help other tetraplegics on their waiting list who desperately need help purchasing essential equipment."
For more information on Regain, go to www.regainsportscharity .



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