THE Bishop of Swindon is finally in the saddle after fighting off his cancer diagnosis and setting off on a long-planned cycle ride from Land’s End to John O’Groats.

Dr Lee Rayfield was diagnosed with Hodgkin Lymphoma last August, and had originally planned to take on the gruelling 881 mile trek in September.

Having now gone into remission, Dr Rayfield felt fit enough to set off on the mammoth challenge last weekend. He will be raising money to go towards the development of church leaders with Bristol’s link Diocese in Uganda.

He said: “Thankfully my excellent physical condition proved to be a great blessing as I coped much better with the chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatments.

“In fact this was the first of many blessings and the six months of treatment became a period of deep spiritual growth.

“I am delighted to report that the treatment has been successful. The physicians have declared me in remission and believe I am wholly cured.”

The trip was rescheduled from Friday 4 to Saturday July 19. Dr Rayfield is being accompanied by colleague Mike Palmer, who is driving and providing support.

Having driven north to John O’Groats over the weekend, the bishop set out on Sunday morning to begin the journey.

“Despite the gloomy projections it was sunshine all the way up and the views across to the various islands surrounding the north east tip of Scotland were fabulous,” he said.

“After posing for a picture by the sign saying 876 miles to Land’s End I set off.

“I was wearing the polka dot Tour de France King of the Mountains jersey that was sent to me when I was receiving chemotherapy with the prayerful desire that I would get over the hills of treatment and eventually do the End to End.

“In the first two to three miles I thought there was a major problem. My knees felt like they would not last 10 miles let alone nearly 1000.

“This was a bit of a shock and something I committed to prayer.

“The good news is that by 10 miles or so I seemed to‘find my legs and the form I had a couple of weeks ago returned.”

Dr Rayfield is inviting members of Swindon Road Club, as well as family, friends, colleagues and cyclists from across the Diocese to join him for part of his trip on July 16.

“It would be great if people would sponsor me as I try and reach my target of £10,000,” said Bishop Lee. “This will enable us to do some wonderful work, such as organising conferences, to develop leadership gifts and skills in Uganda.

“God has truly been using these to build confidence, collegiality and faith, and to transform communities across Uganda.

“And if you are the praying type, please pray that my physical condition will not fall short of my spiritual ambition.”