A YORK man who had a life changing stroke which left him partially paralysed is due to take on the remarkable challenge of cycling from York to Italy.

John Skelton was 47 when he had a severe stroke which resulted in his left arm and leg being paralysed.

Before he had the stroke John had hoped to cycle from home in Heworth to Lucca in northern Italy, where he has ancestral links. The dream was something he held on to in the months following the stroke and now more than two years on, and following intensive rehabilitation work, he hopes to complete on an adapted trike.

John said: "Throughout my time in hospital and rehab, I clung onto this idea as a 'pipe-dream'. I still can't walk a mile or use my left-hand, but I have decided not to let that stop me getting on with life - so with the help of my family and some great mates, I am going for it.

"I'm really excited about it and I can't wait to start. I've been planning it for about a year and thinking about how to make it possible.

"I'm hoping to get some long term physical benefit from it and it will confirm to me that I'm still able to do some of the things, I hesitate to say 'normal' people can do. I suppose it will make me feel a bit more like the old me."

While John said his left arm is still completely paralysed, his leg function has improved since beginning training and he feels ready to tackle the tough physical challenge which will see him cycle 50km a day over 45 days.

The course will take in climbs in the Alps but John said he will be getting a lift through the 2,220 metre St Gotthard Pass: "I will admit, here and now, there will be a degree of cheating over the highest bit of Switzerland - I reckon that I have a pretty good excuse."

John, a chartered surveyor, has already raised £1,200 of a £2,000 target for the charity Different Strokes, which supports stroke survivors of working age to regain as much independence as possible.

- If you would like to sponsor John, please visit https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/John-Skelton3