A SOMERSET women who underwent six spinal surgeries has completed a charity mission in aid of the hospital which helped her.

Jill Martin had hoped to cycle to every Premiership Rugby Club in England in a sponsored charity endeavour, but as the coronavirus lockdown hit the country, her plans had to be changed.

With her plans put off until next year, she decided she still wanted to do something in help, and chose Love Musgrove for her lockdown mission.

"I regularly receive e-mails from Love Musgrove," she said. "So when I saw they were going to run the ‘Miles for Musgrove June 2020 Challenge’ I thought what better way than to undertake a cycle ride which would cover the distance that I would have been riding that month anyway, hence the 600 miles.

"I adapted my JustGiving page accordingly and set about cycling the local area and beyond from where I live in Marston Magna. I received a lot of support from my husband Tom who accompanied me on a fair number of my rides. Thankfully,

for most of the month, the weather was on our side and we only had to resort to an indoor turbo trainer twice to build up the miles when it was too wet and dangerously windy outside. All in all I rode 28 days out of the 30, one day off for my birthday and one day for my family to visit when lockdown restrictions were eased."

"I set myself a few challenging rides, several of which conquered my nemesis of being able to ride up a hefty hill, whilst others took in some beautiful rural routes around our glorious Somerset countryside where I would stop and take in some of the fabulous views that were to be had. When I realised that I would probably break my 600 mile target, I set up the idea that I would ride to Musgrove Park Hospital on the last day of the month to complete the challenge."

Jill had always been an active person, having taken part in four London Marathons, and she even climbed Kilimanjaro to celebrate her 50th birthday.

But she soon started to experience spine related issues, and over the following 12 years she had to go through six spinal surgeries, and three shoulder surgeries.

The majority of her spinal surgeries took place at Musgrove Park Hospital under the watchful eye of consultant Paul Thorpe and his team.

She has now been in good health for the last two and a half years, and is excited to give back.

Ms Martin says she is 'in awe' of the surgeons and what they can achieve, and wanted to support research and training into new spinal surgeries through the Henry Bissell Spinal Research Fund.

Paul Thorpe joined her for the last five miles of her ride as she came in to the Musgrove Park Hospital site on June 30.

She added: "I am so grateful that I have been able to resume my active lifestyle once more due to the success of the spine and shoulder surgeries that I underwent, and I am delighted that I can undertake long distances and suffer no lasting ill effects after, bar a tired leg or too.

"Having ridden the 700 miles has given me the determination to achieve my challenge of riding to every Premiership Rugby Club next year for the three charities, especially now that I shall have to increase my overall distance to accommodate the newly promoted Newcastle Falcons.

"I feel more confident that I shall be able to endure greater distances in a day which will be needed for the rugby ride.

"What an exhilarating way to raise money for charity by riding around the beautiful countryside and I shall certainly be putting myself forward to join in with more cycle events organised by Love Musgrove.

"As a result of this success, I am considering of doing something for Christians Against Poverty in a couple months time, this time covering a more extensive area of Somerset as good preparation for next year."

To donate, visit justgiving.com/fundraising/jill-martin20.