Experiencing the trauma of spinal surgery inspired Melksham woman Stephanie Jones to help others by taking on a gruelling London-to-Paris cycle ride.

The 24-year-old former George Ward pupil severely damaged her back when she fell from a horse in 2008. She joined 23 other fundraisers for the long-distance challenge last weekend, to raise money for the Spinal Injuries Association.

She said: “It was all really, really good, everyone got on very well, and I got to know the most inspirational people I have ever met.

“The camaraderie with everybody was really great. You have three days with nowhere else to go so you all have to get along, and we all made friends.”

Last year the PR manager, who now lives in London, completed the London Marathon, raising more than £2,000 for the charity.

She has been supported in her fundraising by Melksham firm Bearings Plus, and said: “I found it much harder to train for this because I work full-time in the city so taking my bike everywhere was more difficult, but I managed to do a few long weekend rides. Before the ride we had collected £35,000, but we hope to rach £45,000 by the end of June.

“After my operation I was all right, but it was good just to know the SIA was there for my family, as they went through a hell of a lot more than I did.”

Miss Jones grew up in Melksham, where her parents still live. Her surgery involved inserting titanium into her spine to support the damaged areas, enabling her to leave hospital after only 15 days.

She is moving to Australia next month, and will take her bike and carry on cycling for charity.