Littlehampton bike shop boss organises ride for Worthing Hospital staff who helped him after operation

A bike shop owner will be riding to repay the hospital staff who looked after him following a serious illness.

On Sunday, Andrew Sleeman will cycle from Littlehampton to Bognor Regis along the new A259 cycle path to raise money for the Chiltington ward in Worthing Hospital, where he recovered from appendicitis.

Andrew Sleeman right, and Liam Connell organizers of the fancy dress charity bike ride. Picture: Kate Shemilt

Andrew Sleeman right, and Liam Connell organizers of the fancy dress charity bike ride. Picture: Kate Shemilt

He said: “I felt I wasn’t just a body taking up space in the operating theatre – I was a person. They made me feel very safe, and that is what stays in my mind.”

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In June, Andrew, who has run Spokes Cycles in Beach Road, Littlehampton, for nearly 30 years, went to Worthing Hospital with stomach cramps.

After being diagnosed, his appendix was removed. It was the 52-year-old’s first operation, but staff made sure they put him at ease.

He said: “The anaesthetist came down to my bedside to explain what they would be doing, because it is a very daunting thing being put to sleep for the first time.

“I felt so relaxed that I was in the best possible hands.”

After the operation, Andrew, who also used to work for the patient transport service, said staff on Chiltington ward made sure he had the best care.

While there, he spotted a raffle being run by staff to get folding beds for families so they could stay overnight with their relatives.

He said: “I want to give something back to show the nurses that they were appreciated.

“Trying to sell raffle tickets on top of their busy days... I was in awe of their strength and hard work.”

He was back at work after three days, rather than the recommended six weeks, which he said was testament to the care he received – and it was not long until he hatched a plan to help raise money for the £800 beds.

With the help of Liam Connell, with whom Andrew has done several charity rides over the years, the bike shop owner hoped to get 100 cyclists, each donating £30, to take part in the ride wearing fancy dress – illustrated by the gingerbread man costume the pair are holding in the picture. Click here to read about Liam's charity bike ride last year, which raised money for the cancer ward which saved his life.
It will start at 10am in the Manor House car park in Church Street, Littlehampton. The ride will also promote the A259 cycle lane, which Andrew described as ‘fantastic’.

Visit spokescycles.co.uk to join in. Donate at justgiving.com/crowdfunding/bikeride4glideawaybeds