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From Perth to Sydney on his bike; REDDITCH: Heart attack pensioner's 'thank you'.

Byline: By Emma Cullwick

RETIRED university lecturer Barrie Wade is preparing to cycle 3,000 miles across Australia to raise money for the doctors who saved his life.

Sixty-seven-year-old Professor Barrie Wade, who lectured in English and Education at the University of Birmingham, was nursed back to health by staff at the Alexandra Hospital in Redditch after he suffered a heart attack nine years ago.

Now, as a way of saying "thank you", the pensioner is to embark on a gruelling challenge which will see him pedal more than 100 miles a day for five weeks.

His ride will take him from Perth on the west coast of Australia to Sydney on the east crossing hundreds of miles of scorching deserts and hostile terrain.

Prof Wade is hoping to raise pounds 50,000 through sponsorship and the cash will be split between the Alex and charity Mencap.

The donations come as the Alex celebrates its 20th anniversary and Mencap clocks up 60 years helping people with learning disabilities. Mencap is a cause close to Prof Wade's heart. He is a governor of the National Mencap College and has written four books on special educational needs.

Now he has begun a vigorous training regime to get himself fit for the expedition in September.

"It was by complete accident that I took up cycling after I retired," explained Prof Wade, of Crooks Lane, Studley, Warwickshire.

"My wife had got some information together for a friend who was interested in doing a cycling challenge in Costa Rica, but he decided against it when he read about how gruelling it was.

"But I thought it was a fantastic challenge and decided to give it a stab."

Since then, Prof Wade, married to 66- year-old Ann with three grown-up daughters, has completed seven charity bike rides, including John O'Groats to Land's End.

But his latest venture is to be his most daring to date. "I'm doing this completely independently, whereas the others were all organised by charities and we had a lot of back-up, with mechanics on stand-by to fix our broken bikes and medics on guard in case of emergencies," he said.

Anyone wishing to sponsor the professor can call him on 01527 853860.


CHALLENGE... Professor Barrie Wade outside Alexandra Hospital.
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Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Geographic Code:8AUST
Date:Feb 22, 2006
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