When keen cyclist Jim Phillips from Downend, Bristol was recovering from a stroke in May 2020, one of his first thoughts was: “When can I get back on my bike?”

Until then he had been regularly doing long distance rides with friends in the cycling club which he ran, doing up to 100 miles in a day, and hoped he could one day get back to that level of fitness. He had always led an active life: for the first 33 years of his career, Jim was an engineer in the RAF and served in several combat zones in that time before retiring as a Squadron Leader.

“I knew it was going to be tough,” he recalls, “but until then I had no idea just how much the stroke had affected my energy and stamina. On my first ride I ran out of energy after just 15 miles and had to crawl back the remaining miles in a rainstorm. It was devastating.”

Since then, Jim’s determination to improve has seen him steadily increase his mileage; and now, to celebrate becoming 60, he has set himself the ambitious task of cycling 3,600 km (2250 miles) in a year – raising vital funds to support the charity that has helped him on his road to recovery: Bristol After Stroke. The distance he is cycling is more than the equivalent of going from Land’s End to John O’Groats – and back again.

Poor weather has meant that fitting in the miles so far this year has not been easy, especially as he has also returned to his full-time job in engineering within the defence sector. But he is on course to reach his target by New Year’s Eve, and has already pushed himself to doing up to 75 miles in a day.

“I’ve been lucky to have a very supportive group of cycling friends – the ‘Church Lane Cranks’ – who have patiently been going out with me and encouraging me to keep pushing,” he says. “I’m also keen to turn around what happened to me, and make sure that other people who have strokes can get the best possible support and care in the weeks, months and years that follow.”

Jim suffered a “lacunar stroke” which occurs when an artery that supplies blood to the deeper portions of the brain becomes blocked, and this type accounts for up to a quarter of strokes.

“While it was serious, and I still have symptoms, I think of myself as one of the luckier ones,” insists Jim, “because the effects have not been as damaging or as long-term as some other people’s experience. But key to making as full a recovery as possible is down to receiving assistance after one leaves hospital.
“This is what Bristol After Stroke does, helping hundreds of local people on that often long and difficult journey every year, and that makes it a great cause to support.” He has set himself a fundraising target of £1,000 and is well on his way to achieving that… but hopes to raise even more.
As he says, “Some 100,000 people every year have strokes in the UK and there are 1.3 million stroke-affected people. It affects people of all ages as well as their family and friends. I know from the support that Bristol After Stroke gave me that every pound raised matters, as the charity could support even more people locally with additional funding.”

You can follow Jim’s epic journey, and support his efforts, on his Just Giving Page:


Bristol After Stroke is registered in England and Wales under Charity Company Number: 11841993 and Charity Number: 1182124 at The Gatehouse Centre, Hareclive Road, Hartcliffe, Bristol, BS13 9JN. We use cookies to improve your experience using this website.
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