Mike’s going to great lengths to support facial palsy service

Friday 10th August 2018

Mike’s going to great lengths to support facial palsy service

Land’s End to John O’Groats is one of the most challenging endurance rides a cyclist can do. But the thought of racking up 980 miles in 9 days including some serious hills isn’t putting one cyclist off. For Mike Gwynn it’s not about the miles, it’s saying thank you to the hospital that’s provided his brother-in-law with life-changing support.

Mike is taking on this immense challenge of riding across Britain from 8-16 September in aid of the QVH Charity, which supports the Queen Victoria Hospital, where his brother-in-law Bob is receiving specialist treatment as he recovers from facial palsy.

Facial palsy is a term used to explain a weakness of the facial muscles, caused by temporary or permanent damage to the facial nerve. Those with facial palsy will have at least part or all of their face paralysed, and can also have the movement of their eyes and or mouth affected.

Bob suffered from total facial paralysis and complete hearing loss on one side. After his initial recovery, Bob’s niece, Mary, who works at the Queen Victoria Hospital, told him about the hospital’s facial palsy service, the UK’s first and largest, which treats palsy and paralysis patients from across the country. Bob was referred and has been seeing the multi-disciplinary team ever since.

Having tackled the RideLondon last year, it seems riding the whole length of Great Britain was a natural next step (or should that be pedal) for Mike. He explains: “When you use the words ‘life-changing’ to describe the effect the treatment Bob received at Queen Victoria Hospital has had, you begin to realise the real impact of the work carried out by its brilliant facial palsy team. Cycling 980 miles is my way of thanking the hospital – it’s not just about the treatment Bob has received, it’s the care, attitude, approach and way they talk to him. He’s now making small improvements all the time.

“The hills of Cornwall and Devon in the first couple of days will be brutal,” says Mike, “and unless you have some serious hill mileage in your legs you’re going to struggle. I want to be able to enjoy the ride rather than endure it, so it’s all about the training.”

His brother-in-law Bob Kimber explains in his own words what it’s like to have facial palsy: “I quickly discovered that facial palsy is a very unpleasant and debilitating condition. It affects you not only physically due to major problems with speaking, eating, and sleeping (including constant eye issues) but also psychologically. Facing the world and trying to get back to a normal life, knowing how you look, is a scary ordeal. Without the support of the team at the Queen Victoria Hospital I don’t believe I would be where I am today. I can’t help but wonder how I would have coped or what if any progress I would have made without them.”

Funds raised by Mike’s cycling super-challenge will help QVH Charity support the hospital’s facial palsy team to develop an app to help improve the rehabilitation of patients by tracking facial muscles in real-time.

The Tarana restaurant in Lingfield has helped Mike with his fundraising, including hosting a curry and quiz night, and sponsoring a cycling jersey which he’s been sporting as he trains.

If you’d like to sponsor Mike’s challenge please visit http://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/michael-gwynn2. He’s hoping to raise in excess of £2,000 for QVH Charity.

Pictured: Mike’s riding from Land’s End to John O’Groats in aid of QVH Charity.

For more information please contact the QVH Press Office on 01342 414508 or 01342 404203.