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The Herold, Barossa Valley August 24, 2005
Adventurous cyclists to visit
Endunda and Kapunda will be privileged to be visited by two adventurous cyclists on August 26 and 27.

Former triathlete, Graeme Leith and great friend and cycling buddy, Peter Stanley are currently cycling 4,200 kms across Australia from Perth to Sydney. For Graeme, who shouldn't be able to walk across his garden, let alone bike across a continent, this endeavour amounts to a nearly unbelievable challenge.

Graeme suffered a horrific skiing injury in 1997 and was left paralysed from the waist down, a paraplegic. He was told that he would never walk again, and that his life would be wheelchair bound. Graeme confounded the specialists by learning how to stand and walk again.



Graeme and Peter are aiming to explore the truth in the saying "you can if you think you can". Their journey is a metaphor for personal achievement against all odds, and is parallel to the work of charities that they are raising money for.

It is anticipated that the cyclist will arrive in Eudunda on August 26. They are scheduled to meet with local school students from Eudunda and Robertstown in the afternoon.

A tea at Eudunda Club commencing at approximately 6 p.m. is planned, with music being provided by Jo Bruhn and guitar students. All members of the Eudunda and Robertstown communities are invited to come along and meet these gentlemen.

On August 27 Graeme and Peter will be visiting Kapunda, as part of their Cornish ancestry. The following is planned: at 2 p.m. at Map Kurnow, Adelaide Road, Kapunda. There will be a presentation and exchange of greetings. This short ceremony will include speakers, John Clark from Good Beginnings Australia, an Australian children and families charity. Graeme Leith (cyclist) who will extend greetings from the Mayor of Penzance. Des Shanahan Hawke, mayor of Kapunda and Kapunda and Light Chair, Pam Laver will make presentations and extend return greetings. Rosanne Hawke, renowned author, will speak briefly about the Kapunda Cornish connection.

All members of Kapunda and surrounding districts are cordially invited to come along to this memorable occasion. For further information please contact Eudunda/Roberstown Connect Programme on 8581 1607 or Elaine Moseley at Kapunda Visitors Information Centre.

West Briton 11/08/05
Paralysis no barrier to cycling across Oz.
Mannaca man does not let his disability prevent
a marathon trip. Gareth Bartlett reports

Graeme Leith has set off on his challenge to cycle across Australia, eight years after being paralysed from the waist down. Despite having no feeling in his feet, Graeme from Manaccan, began the grueling 4,200 km pedal from Perth to Sydney with his companion, Peter Stanley, on Saturday.

They will be raising money for Cornwall Air Ambulance and the Journey of a Life Time Trust (JoLT), and Australian charities Good Beginnings and the Lions Children's Mobility Foundation.



Graeme at home

After a skiing accident eight years ago, doctors told Mr. Leith, aged 58, that he would never walk again. His spine was severely damaged, leaving him paralysed from the waist down. But the former trialthete was determined to walk again, so joined a gym and began training on an exercise bike, building up the strength in his legs.

"After the accident, I was determined to walk again, and was very keen to get back on a bike," he said "I was desperately frightened that I wouldn't be able to support my family I remember the surreal feeling of sitting on the bike and looking down at my numb legs. I don't know how I got them to move, but I did in the end."

He now has some feeling in his legs, although he still has difficulty walking. After much hard work, in 2001 Mr. Leith began cycling outdoors with Mr. Stanley, from Helston, at his side, helping him come to a halt at junctions and roundabouts. "Cycling was my first passion, so I am really looking forward to taking on this challenge," he said.

Earlier this year, the two men took a final trip to Spain for two weeks' cycling in preperation for the expedition. More recently they have been riding around 250 km a week around the back roads of Cornwall.

It is estimated that the trip will take them 37 days, traveling along roads including the Eyre Highway, which spans 146.6 km across the Nullarbor Plain between West and South Australia.

Mr. Leith said: "The thing that excites me most is that I know so little about what will happen on this adventure." They were also looking forward to meeting people along the way.

"Biking is easily understood. You are vulnerable, therefore people are willing to help in the most unexpected ways," he said. "I can ride, and until I get off my bike people don't know that I am disabled."

He is also hoping that cycling will help his legs regain more feeling. Clocking up an average of 150 km a day, the pair are aiming to reach Bondi Beach, in Sydney, on September 9th.

Stirling Times August 2- 8, 2005
Defying a paralyzing diagnosis
By Michael Ferrante

Graeme Leith was told seven years ago by doctors he would never walk again after suffering a rupture disc in his lower back.

Two operations later, the devastating news came. Mr. Leith was told he would be permanently paralysed from the waist down.

But after painstakingly regaining mobility with the help of an occupational therapist, the former triathlete defined the odds and learnt to walk again. He had to train his body to cope with the most basic of movements such as standing up unaided and walking without falling over.

Seven years on from his terrible ordeal, the UK-based Mr. Leith is not only walking but can jog and ride a bike again. He's even spent a week in France cycling with a friend and skied the slopes of Europe. But not satisfied with that, he and his mate Peter Stanley have set themselves their next big challenge - cycling from Perth to Sydney for charity.

The Pair will start the 4200km journey on two wheels this Saturday from Scarborough. Mr. Leith said the ride was part of their pact to set themselves more demanding goals every year and follows a 900km ride through Spain and France last year. "It's a sort of celebration of life in general and my recovery so far," Mr. Leith said.

The ride will benefit the Lion's Children's Mobility Foundation which supplies orthopedic devices which help disable children walk. Mr. Leith said he hoped he could help others with mobility problems by raising money during the ride. He admitted to a little trepidation in crossing the Nullarbor but was confident of achieving it with his mate close by.

"We like our own company so it won't be a problem," Mr. Leith said. "The biggest challenges will be dealing with the things we've not planned for, the unexpected."

Scarborough Lions Club have organized a sending off breakfast for the pair on Saturday morning at Scarborough Surf Life Saving Club at 7.30am for a donation. And a celebration at Bondi awaits the pair on their arrival in Sydney.

West Briton 16/06/05
Manaccan man on a cycling odyssey to Oz
A CYCLIST from Manaccan is hoping there is truth in the saying that biking 60 miles in Cornwall is worth 90 anywhere else.

Graeme Leith, a former paraplegic, will join his friend, Peter Stanley, to cycle across Australia from Perth to Sydney between August 5 and September 15.

The pair have been in training since January for their ambitious challenge which will raise money for the Air Ambulance and the Journey of a lifetime (JoLt).

Graeme said: "Sixty miles biking in Cornwall are worth 90 miles anywhere else - is a well-known saying among Cornish cyclists. If it's true it will be a real help in my training".



Paraplegic cyclist Graham Leith.

"I had a skiing injury in 1997 that left me unable to move and without sensation below my waist. Doctor were unable to predict how much I would recover so this bike ride is not only a journey of a lifetime for both us, it is also a celebration of my recovery."

"It was fortunate that I had been a triathlete before my injury so was used to following a training programme," added Graeme, who only has 15 per cent use of his calves and five per cent use of his feet.

"Peter and I have had a big cycling aim each year since we started biking together in 1998. The first aim was simply to learn how to bike again. I had to have my feet placed into the pedal straps and be held up so I could set off. I was OK so long as I kept moving. At the end I had to be caught. If I stopped before help or other support was at hand, I fell off. Peter had a lot of practice in picking me up."

The pair have been in training since January gradually building up their stamina and strength. "To complete our Oz Odyssey, Peter and I have to concentrate on three main aspects of biking stamina, strength and speed," said Graeme.

We have built up the distances since January and have completed several rides up to 115kms. If that old Cornish saying is right then these would equate to 180 kms. A recent ride of 115km was a real test as it included more than 2,000 metres of climbing - higher than most Alpine passes. Graeme's target for June is to complete around four days each cycling 120kms, then in July it will be time to concentrate on final speed training.


West Briton 28/04/05
POIROT actor David Suchet has given his support to a recovering paraplegic who will be cycling 4,200 kilometres across Australia later this year. Graeme Leith, of Manaccan, near Helston, was told he would never walk again after being paralysed from the waist down in a skiing accident in 1997.

Mr. Suchet, currently, starring in London's West End, praised Graeme's efforts. Mr. Suchet is a trustee of JoLt - the Journey of a Lifetime Trust, which is one of the charities that will benefit from Graeme's brave cycling challenge.


David Suchet with Graeme

The actor thanked Graeme and his riding partner, Peter Stanley, for raising funds for JoLt and wished them both well. "Their efforts will make a vast difference to the next bunch of disadvantaged youngsters in their Journey Of a Lifetime in 2006."


West Briton
Opinion
A 'miracle' to inspire all of us Graeme Leith is an inspiration. His story is an incredible one. Whenever someone manages to defy the expectations of doctors and specialists it is a magnificent achievement. On television just the other day was a story about a young woman, who became pregnant after major treatment for cancer in her groin - even though doctors told her she would never do so. It just goes to show that, even with as much knowledge and training as Western doctors have, the human body is capable of exceeding all their expectations.

Some people have hailed these kind of break-throughs as miracles. Whether they are not the issue - they just go to show what wonderful things the human body and mind can accomplish. In Graeme's case, his determination to get back on his bike and not be confined to a wheelchair has inspired a magnificent and incredulous recovery:

It certainly puts many of our own lives into perspective by showing us the difficulties we think we face are not comparable to the challenges Graeme, and others like him, have to overcome everyday.


West Briton
Charity cyclist given tips by rugby director
Graeme Leith, who will cycle across Australia in August this year for charity, has been getting some advice from former Cornwall rugby star Alan Buzza.

Having been told by doctors he would never walk again following a skiing accident in 1997, Graeme used his first love - cycling - to rebuild the use of and strength in his legs. He is now back on two feet and slowly recovering after being paralysed from the waist down.



Graeme with Alan Buzza

Graeme met the ex-WASP rugby player; now the director of rugby at Loughborough University, as he began his training for the 4300km journey. He received tips from Alan, especially about the strength and endurance he will need to complete the mammoth task. Alan is also a volunteer helper on JoLt -Journey of a Lifetime Trust - a small charity set up in 1984.

Joining Graeme of Manaccan, on the cycle challenge will be Peter Stanley of Helston. They hope to raise money for JoLt. The charity provides the journey to a different group of 20 to 40 youngsters every two years and some 250 youngsters have benefited. Each JoLter has to raise £600 toward the cost of their journey, which last year was to New Zealand.


Manaccan man confounds doctors as he trains for Aussie ride
Man 'who would never walk' gets on his bike
By Gareth Bartlett of the West Briton

A local man who was told he would never walk again by doctors after being paralysed from the waist down is preparing to tackle his biggest challenge yet - cycling thousands of miles across Australia.

Graeme Leith, of Manaccan, will travel 4,200 kilometres across Australia in August for charity. The trip would be a great challenge for any able-bodied cyclist but for Graeme - who was paralysed after a skiing accident in 1997, when he was 48 years old - it amounts to an almost unbelievable challenge.

"The accident has left me a paraplegic. I was paralysed from the waist down and I've been seeking to recover ever since" said Graeme, who was a triathlete, a cyclist and marathon runner before the accident.

"The doctors and specialists said that I would never walk again and should just get used to it and get on with it. So I spent about four months in a wheelchair. But every so often I would make progress by concentrating on different aspects of physio and exercise."

Graeme has confounded the medical experts by learning how to stand and walk again. "It's been hard work - but what doctors know anyway? A lot of it has been focusing and concentrating on getting on with it while else says I can't."

He still has problems with "dropped feet" which makes it difficult getting on and off the bike and keeping his feet in the pedals, creating a constant challenge to his safety while on the trip. Luckily his friend and cycling buddy Peter Stanley, is on hand to partner Graeme throughout the trip, as he has done at every stage of his recovery.

"Once I step on to the bike I'm OK. It's an absolutely standard bike now but I used a tricycle when I first came out of hospital," Said Graeme. Then as I got stronger I went on to use a mountain bike and now just a normal racing bike. I've been doing more work each year with the bike. That has been a great help.

"I had to set a goal each year and every year I've done something to build on the previous one.

"Three years ago I took part in a 24-hour bike ride in Sweden. Then last year we did a trip in Spain and France doing long day trips." The pair believe the journey across Australia is a metaphor for personal achievement against the odds and expectations of the experts.

"I'm confident that with training we can do it and I'm starting to bike quite a bit now. But it's the things we don't plan for that have the potential to get in the way," said Graeme. "I still have dropped foot so everything is coming from thr thighs. I still hope to get that back to what it used to be."

"The rate of recovery is quite slow now. The first two or three years you could see the change quite quickly but now it takes second place to everything else that is going on, like my job."

Graeme now runs a business coaching company which has major companies such as Birmingham Midshires and The Nation Trust among its clients. Graeme is sponsored by Helston business Cycle Logic but is hoping to find a corporate sponsor to help with the trip across Australia.


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