Stroke survivor's 131ft daredevil challenge

Paul, who is now back in the saddle after suffering a major stroke and, below, cycling star Mark Cavendish

Paul, who is now back in the saddle after suffering a major stroke and, below, cycling star Mark Cavendish

First published in News Bury Times: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter

A STROKE survivor and cycling enthusiast dubbed a “true champion” by bike star Mark Cavendish is taking part in a daredevil charity stunt.

Next month Paul Van Der Kamp, aged 48, will descend a 131ft drop at the Manchester Velodrome while cyclists race round the track.

The father-of-one, from Outwood, Radcliffe, will take part in the Madchester Drop on March 29 to raise money — and awareness — for the Stroke Association, a cause close to his heart.

Fitness fanatic Paul suffered a serious stroke in April, 2011, at the age of 45, despite regularly cycling up to 200 miles a week.

A hole in his heart had caused the stroke, which left him unable to walk or speak.

Paul was admitted to Fairfield Hospital, Bury, where doctors told him he wouldn’t walk again. But Paul was determined to prove them wrong and get back on his bike. And inspired by his hero Cavendish, Paul cycled 100 miles on the first anniversary of his stroke. He said: “I was keen to take part in the Madchester Drop to help show other stroke survivors that they can enjoy life after a stroke.

“It seems fitting with my passion for cycling to abseil down the National Cycling Centre.

“I never thought a stroke would happen to me. I’m fit and live a healthy lifestyle, so it came as a total shock.

“That’s why I want to raise awareness of stroke and help show that everyone has the right to make the best possible recovery.”

Paul still has a slight limp, reduced movement in his right arm and a speech impediment.

He has returned to work full time as director of Oldham cash and carry firm P&P Wholesale Ltd and also volunteers with the Stroke Association.

Paul’s stroke tore apart the worlds of partner Adele and 17-year-old daughter Ashleigh but the teenager applied to a television show to give her “hero” dad the chance of a lifetime. And last year, Paul appeared on ITV1’s Surprise Surprise and met Cavendish.

On the programme, which aired last October, Cavendish said: “Against all the odds you were determined to succeed. You are a true champion.”

Louise Kay, community and events fundraising manager at the Stroke Association, said: “The Madchester Drop is one of our most daring and exciting opportunities of the year we’re thrilled Paul is taking part. His sheer determination is simply inspirational.”

To register for the Madchester Drop, which has an entry fee of £15 and a minimum sponsorship target of £95, call 01604 687 768 or email madchesterdrop@stroke.org.uk.

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