Heart attack survivor targets cycle challenge

NBENBE110826b2, Duffield man Jeff Whittingham cycling 36 miles after heart attack.
NBENBE110826b2, Duffield man Jeff Whittingham cycling 36 miles after heart attack.

When Jeff Whittingham had a heart attack two years ago aged 45, it inspired him to change his life.

He’s now looking forward to a tough test, the 36 -mile long Robin Hood Bike Ride. The British Heart Foundation cycle challenge involves both on and off road elements through Sherwood Pines and Clumber Forest.

The heart attack led to Jeff pursuing a healthier lifestyle. He said: “Because of my heart condition I’m in constant training primarily just to stay healthy. I try to swim three times a week and go for bike rides at least twice.”

In the past weeks he has cycled from his home in Duffield to places as far away as Chatsworth and Matlock but he still suspects the Robin Hood challenge will be a tough one.

Jeff, of Ecclesbourne Road, only realised after a day had passed that he had in fact suffered a heart attack. He said: “I was driving from Derby to our office in Cardiff when I looked in the mirror and decided I looked awful and I still had some pains in my chest. I decided to go to the University Hospital in Cardiff to get checked out but I was admitted and told I had had a heart attack, which was a massive shock.”

The father of four had two stents, artificial tubes designed to stop blockages occurring, fitted in his heart, then after going through extensive rehabilitation, only 10 months later one of them had to be replaced.

Jeff added: “The heart attack was a major wake-up call for me and I was very lucky to be able to have that wake-up call without any major damage to me. I will have to be on medication for the rest of my life but it has driven me on.”

Since his surgery he has swam a mile in Lake Windermere in the British Gas Great North Swim and a mile in the Thames for the Great London Swim.

He said: “Each time I take on a challenge, it is a personal goal for me.” Cycle and swimming challenges offer him milestones for his recovery and fitness.

However the challenge in October has a emotional importance. Jeff said: “I really hope that my story inspires other people to sign up to the Robin Hood Bike Ride as the work of the BHF is vital. When I was in hospital, their literature was so extensive, it helped me so much.”

Jeff has enjoyed the full support of his wife Sally and children Sam, 19, Harry 16, Darcey, nine, and four-year-old Millie since the attack and they will be cheering him on as he tackles this latest challenge.

Event organiser Daniel Routt said: “I would like to thank Jeff for taking part in this event after all he has been through.”

To sponsor Jeff, simply visit www.justgiving.com/Jeff-Whittingham.