In 2008, Stroud resident Geoff Boldero, suffered a near fatal heart attack 400 yards from the finish line in the Forest of Dean half marathon. He was airlifted to Gloucester Royal Hospital’s helipad, so he could access emergency treatment quickly, which saved his life. Now ten years on, Geoff has completed a 400km cycle challenge over five days in Madagascar to help raise thousands of pounds for the HELP Appeal. It’s the only charity in the country dedicated to funding the construction and upgrade of hospital helipads including the helipad at Gloucester Royal Hospital.
Geoff explains how it went: “At one point, I thought I might not make it after I, and most of the 17 others who took part, caught a stomach bug. I felt quite weak and it was undoubtedly one of the toughest challenges to overcome as I was already trying to navigate some difficult off-road terrain. In fact, some cyclists were too weak to finish the journey, so I count myself very lucky to have reached the end.”
Starting from the capital Antananarivo and cycling towards the Indian Ocean in the east, Geoff managed to cycle 70 miles in one day. He was able to travel through a wide variety of scenery including paddy fields, mountainous terrain and banana trees.
Geoff adds: “It’s a beautiful country with really exotic wildlife. We saw a huge number of lemurs who kept us company as we cycled through the country.
“I was so glad to see the ocean at the end of our journey and we were greeted with champagne to celebrate and coconut milk to replenish our energy levels. It was a life changing experience and I’ll definitely be back.”
Lois Benton, Fundraising Executive at the HELP Appeal added: “What an amazing feat that Geoff has pulled off. We rely completely on the generosity of the public and without fantastic people like Geoff, we would not be able to fund lifesaving helipads which allow critically ill patients to the transferred to the emergency department immediately after landing. We are hugely grateful to those that have donated.”
There is still time to donate to Geoff’s Justgiving page.