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Cycling the South Downs Way

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Martin and Andy on mountain bikes

Paramedic Andy West has completed a gruelling 100-mile off-road cycle along the South Downs Way, with over 14,000ft of ascent.

Andy (pictured, right), who has raised nearly £1,300 for the MS Trust, tells us how his own MS diagnosis inspired him to take on this amazing challenge.

I am a full time paramedic by trade, now working within the clinical training team. I’ve worked for the NHS ambulance sector for 14 years, predominately as a front line paramedic working on an ambulance.

Around the time of my diagnosis I was finding the rotating shift work harder and harder, mainly affecting my balance in dim conditions and my cognition when faced with complex problems. My employer signposted me to occupational health who, in conjunction with my neurologist, suggested I change my working pattern and look to work daytime hours only. I was then interviewed for a job within the training team.

I’m a dad to three young children and have been happily married for 14 years. I love the outdoors and especially mountain sports such as mountain walking/camping and biking. Walking does cause some symptoms if I’m over exerting myself, whereas biking doesn’t seem to affect me. I chose to ride the South Downs Way as it was on my list of things to do anyway – a personal challenge if you like.

Why the MS Trust? When I was diagnosed I found their MS Decisions guide really useful, along with the web-based information. The guide really helped me to choose a disease modifying drug. I started on Avonex and after 18 months of using this drug I switched to Tecfidera on the recommendation of my neurologist.

I want to do as much outdoor activity as possible while I can, continue to climb mountains and enjoy the outdoors with my friends and family, just in case my health deteriorates.