Bob’s life took a challenging turn when his heart began to fail in his late 40s. A passionate cyclist, Bob found his active lifestyle, including playing football and walking with his wife, was compromised as his condition worsened over the next 15 years. After being told he was too weak for a heart transplant, Bob’s only option was to have a left ventricular assist device (LVAD) heart pump fitted.

In 2017, Bob underwent life-changing surgery to have the heart pump fitted and, following his discharge, he received support from physiotherapists at Royal Blackburn Hospital. With this support, Bob worked on rebuilding his strength and confidence to walk unaided. Six weeks post-surgery, Bob was referred to the Refresh Team for further cardiac rehabilitation.

At the time, LVAD pumps were quite rare, with only 80 people in the North of England having undergone the procedure to have it fitted. Bob says “The Refresh Health & Wellbeing Service recognised my needs and took the initiative and time to learn more about the device; they met with staff at Wythenshawe Hospital and attended training opportunities.  This dedication enabled them to offer me tailored advice and support on appropriate activities for my condition which involved weekly one-hour sessions focused on weight machines, leg lifts and squats”.

A year after his surgery, Bob was eager to take the next step: getting back on his bike. Alongside his wife, Bob went bike shopping and, for the first time in 10 years, he rode a bike.


Bob was initially nervous about cycling alone. Medics at Wythenshawe Hospital connected him with other LVAD patients who shared similar feelings, leading to a ride together along a flat cycle track. The group, now known as the ‘Electric Cranks’, meet every fortnight to ride their electric bikes together. Cycling in a group has greatly increased Bob’s confidence in his own abilities.

Bob has integrated physical activity into his daily life, choosing to cycle rather than drive whenever possible, and aiming for at least one longer bike ride each week. He also enjoys gardening and going on walks with his wife.

Today, seven years on, Bob’s physical and mental health are stronger than they’ve been in decades. Bob credits his remarkable progress to the unwavering support of his family, friends, and the Refresh Team. He now finds great reward in volunteering with the Refresh Cycle Programme, using his experiences to help others learn to ride a bike.