FUNDRAISING champ Colin Mallen is taking on a 300-mile bike ride in just 24 hours to drum up support for a charity that helped him through a tough time.
The 51-year-old, of Whitburn, is gearing up to cycle the Newcastle to London 24-hour bike ride, on August 22 and 23, in aid of the British Heart Foundation (BHF).
Colin, who is a support worker for Mencap, has had his own personal battle against heart disease.
In 2003, while out for a run he suffered a severe bout of vertigo which made him collapse.
He was taken to the hospital, where doctors discovered a problem with his left ventricle.
Colin was advised to attend regular check-ups to monitor the situation, but no immediate concerns were expressed. However in 2008, Colin was rushed into hospital with ventricular tachycardia (VT), a rapid heart rhythm which can be potentially life- threatening.
After a cardioversion procedure, to return his heart rate to a normal level, and a few days in hospital he was fitted with an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD) implant to help prevent future episodes of VT.
For a couple of years Colin managed to maintain a normal life, although a few incidents led to him having his ICD removed in 2012.
After this, Colin suffered severe chest pains, and it was discovered that the front of his heart was not receiving enough blood.
It was suggested there was a narrowing of one of his arteries and he underwent a procedure to help widen the artery.
My rehabilitation has been slow and tough but I gradually became stronger and more confident, and now I’m back to cycling, swimming and living a full and active life.Colin Mallen
On Boxing Day 2012, Colin suffered an episode of VT when walking his dog, and was again cardioverted, but his ventricle was accidentally punctured during the procedure and he had to have emergency surgery to complete a catheter ablation procedure, which scars small areas of the heart that may be causing rhythm problems.
Although recovery has been a slow process, Colin now feels fit, healthy and enjoys keeping active.
Colin, who lives with fiancée Shirley Sutton, said: “The past few years have been a continuous battle for me and my family. After deciding to remove my ICD, I suffered severe anxiety and panic attacks. While they started to improve, I was an absolute wreck – scared, confused and depressed. I really thought my active life was finished. My rehabilitation has been slow and tough but I gradually became stronger and more confident, and now I’m back to cycling, swimming and living a full and active life.
“During this traumatic and difficult time, I found the BHF’s leaflets and magazine very comforting. I not only suffered physically but it had a big knock on me emotionally.
“Learning about other people’s stories, who were going through a similar experience, I found greatly comforting as I realised I was not alone. I now want to help raise money for the BHF to support the fantastic work they do.”
Louise Parkes, director of fundraising at the BHF, said: “Colin’s story is one of true determination to succeed, he is the reason we are fighting for a world where people do not suffer from cardiovascular disease.
“We are so grateful to Colin for taking on this challenge in support of our lifesaving research. The money raised will help to continue our fight against heart disease. Colin is an inspiration and I would like to encourage people to show their support by sponsoring Colin in the run-up to the Newcastle to London 24 bike ride.”
To sponsor Colin, go to www.justgiving.com/Colin-Mallen