A TEAM of cyclists will travel more than 240 miles from London to Paris this year to raise funds for the Great Western Hospital.

The sponsored bike ride is the first event of its kind that the GWH has launched and will take place in September.

Over the past few weeks, those taking part, including director of Workforce and Education Oonagh Fitzgerald, have begun training for the journey which will take place over three days and will help boost funds for the hospital.

Oonagh said: “I started training from a non-existent level on December 31 and since then have covered 141 miles. “I started off only able to do 3.5 miles in one session and I can now do 16 miles in one go.

“I’m not a cyclist and I’ve never done anything like this before – I’ve only cycled about five times in the last 20 years. “I felt nervous about falling off my bike and being able to keep up with the others on the challenge. However I have really enjoyed the training and have seen lots of Swindon and Wiltshire that I hadn’t seen before. But I am most looking forward to finishing it.

“I heard about the challenge just before New Year when I was thinking through resolutions and I was keen to get healthier and fitter, so it fitted in nicely.

“Also as Director of Workforce and Education for the hospital, I am keen to promote health and wellbeing for our staff so I wanted to practise what I preached. I am also very proud to work in the hospital so raising funds to improve services is a fantastic motivation.”

Communications manager Kevin McNamara is also taking part in the challenge and began training this week.

He said: “This week I had my first day of training and the first proper day on the bike since well before Christmas. I picked what must have been the windiest day of the year so far to get on the bike and it made me realise wind is the enemy. The legs felt ok, the backside not so. So more training is needed, as if I didn't know, but at least the process has started.”

If you are interested in taking part in the bike ride visit www.gwh.nhs.uk. All money raised will go to Great Western Hospital NHS Foundation Trust Charitable Fund.

The charitable fund provides for equipment, capital projects, research, staff training and other equipment that falls outside of the NHS budget to help to ensure that patients and their families receive the best possible provision of care.