Don's on a mission to cycle from Portsmouth to Paris for charity

Fareham Community Hospital in Salisbury Green

Picture: Paul Jacobs

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IN THE sweltering heat of the Arabian Gulf, Don Bradshaw can be seen furiously cycling away on the deck of RFA Diligence.

The 43-year-old has shed almost a stone in weight in just six weeks as he trains for a charity bike ride from Portsmouth to Paris.

Don, who describes himself as the 'chunky, cuddly type', will be joined by his wife Pippa and brother-in-law Chris as they cycle for Help for Heroes in June, visiting and holding ceremonies at D-Day battlefields and war memorials along the way.

The former Royal Navy sailor, who is now a medical technician in the Royal Fleet Auxiliary, even trained on Christmas and New Year's Day in preparation for The Big Battlefield Bike Ride 2011.

He said: 'Weight loss has been 11 pounds so far and I hope to achieve over two stone by the time I get back to the UK in April - most of which seems to be in a puddle under the bike.'

Don is cycling more than 20 miles a day in the Gulf.

He said: 'The heat is an issue. At 33C you really do not want to push yourself too hard on the bike.

'I now train first thing in the morning and before sunset when it is cooler.

'There is a wonderful sensation when you watch the sun set out here. It is quiet, there is almost no cloud and a large sun just settling into the sea is an amazing spectacle. When we are at anchor I have had a fishing boat stop so that all the crew could have a look and a wave at this mad bloke on a bike.'

Don was encouraged to take part in the charity bike ride after seeing his brother-in-law, Chris, complete last year's route.

He said: 'I have lost friends and colleagues though the years and now feel that I am in a position where I could do something more to help and thought that I should.'

The trio will be cycling under the team name Team the Fit, the Fat and the Beautiful.

'You can appreciate where I fit in, in the team,' joked Don.

The team aims to raise 7,000 for Help for Heroes. Visit to make a donation.