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Norwich cyclist's fight against rare lung disease

PUBLISHED: 13:00 06 October 2010 | UPDATED: 16:28 06 October 2010

Tim Gregory gets support from colleagues at his workplace in Norwich

Photo: Bill Smith

Tim Gregory gets support from colleagues at his workplace in Norwich Photo: Bill Smith

Archant © 2010

The founder of one of Norwich's cycling clubs has beaten the odds after recovering from a life-threatening illness which saw his lung function drop to just a third.

When Tim Gregory was diagnosed with a rare lung disease in December last year, it rocked his world. He had been a competitive cyclist since a young boy and could not imagine life without cycling.

At the time, the founder of the Norwich Flyers BMX Club was told he would need a lung and heart transplant and at its worst, he had just 34 per cent of his lung function.

Less than a year on, however, the 42-year-old has now got 70pc of his lung function back, is cycling 200 miles a week and feels almost like his old self again.

It is hoped he will now get his lung function back to 90 or 100 per cent and it looks likely he will not need to have a transplant after all.

He has put his recovery down to the treatment from the Royal Brompton Hospital in London, his fitness and determination not to let the condition beat him and the support he has received from his work colleagues and cycling friends.

Mr Gregory, who lives in Costessey, said: “When I went to the Royal Brompton, there were people there who had the same condition and they had stopped working and had home help. I thought, I’m not going to have that happen to me.

“I’ve been a competitive cyclist since I was 12. It’s my life and I can’t think of my life without cycling. I work with a fantastic group of people and they have helped me to get through it.”

Mr Gregory, an operations manager at STM Polythene in Concorde Road, Norwich, had got into road cycling four years ago but started to have some breathing difficulties about two years ago and could not walk more than 100 yards without passing out.

He was first diagnosed at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital before he was referred to the Royal Brompton where medics came up with a suitable drug infusion for him. He still has to visit the Royal Brompton once a month and will have to do so for the rest of his life.

Last month, 23 of his work colleagues took part in a relay run from Diss town centre to Cromer pier in aid of the Royal Brompton Hospital. They raised more than £3,000.

And Mr Gregory, who took nine hours to complete 100 miles within three months of getting back on his bike, is now down to six hours for 100 miles.

The creator of the BMX track at Sloughbottom Park, who has been supported by Streetlife Cycles in West End Street, Norwich, said: “On the flat I’m okay but when I’m going up a hill I feel like I’m drowning.

“When I completed the Essex 100 a month and a half ago in six hours, it was very emotional. It’s been such a rocky journey but I felt very nearly like my old self again.”

Next year, he is hoping to climb the Col du Tourmalet in the French Pyrenees next year, one of the hardest climbs featured in the Tour de France.

Do you know someone who has beaten the odds and recovered from a life-threatening illness? Call reporter Kate Scotter on 01603 772326 or email kate.scotter@archant.co.uk

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