Dr Dawn Harper from TV’s Embarrassing Bodies tells us why she’s taking part in the Cardiff leg of Hero Ride 2014!
Name: Dr Dawn Harper
Age: Old enough to know better! 50
Where are you from? Gloucestershire
What are you doing? Taking part in Hero Ride 2014 - The Dragon Dash from Cardiff to London
What made you want to sign up for Hero Ride?
I have always been a supporter of our troops but this year I met a young man who told me his personal story of being blown up in Afghanistan. He had 27 injuries and was airlifted back to the UK. 18 months after this he chose to have his leg amputated as the injuries were so severe; he knew he wasn't going to heal. He told me as a true Liverpudlian that he’d had a tattoo on his leg of a liver bird and the famous phrase "you'll never walk alone". Following the amputation the skin had to be moulded around his stump such that now his liver bird looks drunk and the phrase simply reads "you'll never walk"! I was humbled by his humour and his positivity. He is of course not just walking but running marathons. If he can do that I have to do something too, however small.
Do you have any personal reasons to fundraise for H4H?
I have been lucky and have not suffered any personal loss but in recent months, the work that our servicemen do and the risks they take for us keep coming into my life. I worked on Channel 4s Paralympic Breakfast Show last year and presented at the Health and Social Care Awards, where the work done in rehabilitation at Selly Oak Hospital was showcased and more recently I presented from the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Portsmouth for ITVs This Morning where I met a Colonel who works as an Emergency Department consultant in the NHS and on the frontline. Someone up there seems to be telling me it is time to do my bit!
How do you hope to train for Hero Ride?
I do several medium to long distance cycle rides for charity each year so have a tried and tested routine. I live in the Cotswolds and have a 20 mile loop that I try to do two or three times a week which involves some proper hills and then nearer the time I will put in a few longer distance routes.
What are you looking forward to about Hero Ride?
I can’t wait for the Grand Finale in London and also riding alongside the guys and girls that Help for Heroes supports! I am half Welsh which is why I chose this particular route. I love the British countryside so am looking forward to the views and perhaps most importantly on this particular route, hearing the stories along the way. Some will be harrowing I am sure but it is important we don't sweep things under the carpet.
Why did you start cycling?
I was run over in a car chase in 2003 and my left leg was shattered. As part of my rehab I spent hours in the physio gym trying to flex my knee enough to do just one revolution on a static bicycle. Once I could achieve this it seemed logical to get out on a proper bike and build my fitness and strengthen the muscles in my leg. The rest, as they say, is history. I found it was a sport I really enjoyed. As a doctor I have always believed in the benefits of exercise and since taking up cycling I have seen parts of our beautiful country (and others) that I would never have seen before and have met some wonderful people. I wouldn't have chosen to be run over but every cloud has a silver lining.
Any tips to pass on to our fundraisers who may never have cycled before?
Yes, build up slowly. I'm no athlete and if I can do it so can you. Oh ….and invest in padded shorts early – you will appreciate them!
If you want to join Dawn on the Dragon Dash from 5 - 8 June 2014 click here for more information or call our Challenges Team on 01725 514106.