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Paralysed man from Rochdale prepares to take on 1000-mile challenge next month

A fundraiser is taking on the Land's End to John O'Groats (LOJOG) challenge using a specially adapted bike operated by his chin.

Andy Walker, 46, was paralysed from the neck down during a diving accident in Goa 19 years ago and will become the first person to travel the length of Great Britain on a chin-driven Quadrix bike he calls Penelope.

Despite having no limb movement, Andy is no stranger to adventure.

“I like doing mad challenges,” he told the Reporter. “I've always wanted to push my limits, whether that in sports, academics, or just life’s challenges generally. That’s just the character I was before the accident.”

Andy has completed a triathlon and raised more than £12,000 by cycling across Kenya in 2019. He described it at the time as being “like I’d done five rounds with Tyson Fury” and contributed to him being awarded an MBE that year for services to charity.

“There were cows wandering around the intensive care unit,” he says of his time in a Delhi hospital. “My dad had to buy blood off someone in the street. It was extreme.”

His latest voyage aims to raise money and awareness for three charities: the MND Association, which supports people with Motor Neuron Disease; Mahdlo Youth Zone, which provides services for young people in Oldham; and the Regain Sports Charity, which helps sports tetraplegics lead independent lives.

Andy, from Rochdale, will begin his two-week, 1,000-mile LEJOG on Sunday August 4, joined by his cousin Lisa and lifelong friend Alan.

“Having been left in a situation where you can’t move your arms and legs for the rest of your life doesn’t just affect you, but it affects your partner, your mates, your family. I want to keep on pushing the boundaries and inspiring people, like I was inspired when I was lying on what I was told was my death bed.”

There is, however, one thing he isn’t looking forward to about the journey.

“I’m absolutely frightened to death of the weather. I can’t regulate my body temperature and I can’t wipe my eyes when it’s going to be bouncing down on me, so I’m hoping for two weeks of perfect weather and getting a suntan.”

Away from fundraising, he runs a motivational speaking company and has appeared in Emmerdale, where he helped Jackson Walsh – played by Marc Silcock – come to terms with his tetraplegia.

To donate to Andy’s LEJOG, visit his Gofundme page.

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