A HAMPSHIRE cyclist who overcame a spinal condition that threatened to put him in a wheelchair has been killed on a charity bike ride.

Arthur Platt was cycling from John O’Groats to Land’s End in aid of the Daily Echo-backed Help for Heroes organisation, which helps injured servicemen, when he was in collision with a car.

The 37-year-old suffered serious head injuries in the crash.

He was taken to hospital by air ambulance but died shortly afterwards.

The tragedy has stunned colleagues at Totton Health and Leisure Centre, where he worked as a shift manager.

Bob Millard, New Forest District Council’s head of leisure, said: “I’ve known Arthur for many years, firstly as a committed rugby player and for the last nine years as a loyal and dedicated member of our leisure team.

“Arthur put total effort into everything he did and this was no better demonstrated than by his charity bike ride.

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“He was a very popular with colleagues and customers, who are all totally shocked by his sudden and ultimately death.”

Mr Platt, of Lyndhurst, who was married with no children, left John O’Groats on June 26 and had planned to reach his destination tomorrow.

However, his 1,000-mile journey ended in tragedy when he was fatally injured on the A442 dual carriageway at Telford in Shropshire.

A West Midlands Ambulance Service spokesman said: “When crews arrived they immediately started resuscitation on the cyclist, who had suffered very serious injuries.

“After his condition was stabilised he was airlifted to hospital.

Unfortunately, despite all the efforts of ambulance and hospital staff, it was not possible to save him.”

Di Brooks, the council’s Cabinet member for leisure said: “We closed the health centre as a mark of respect and also because the staff were so upset.

“It’s particularly tragic because Arthur died doing a good turn for other people.”

Shortly before setting off Mr Platt said: “While most people will be settling down to watch the World Cup I’ll be out there pedalling away.

“I chose Help for Heroes because ill health prevented me from joining the army and I’d like to support injured servicemen and women.”

Mr Platt was born with a spinal condition that was subsequently made worse by his previous job as a zookeeper.

His doctor warned him to change career or face life in a wheelchair. He took part in a special course at the Applemore Health and Leisure Centre, near Hythe, and was so enthusiastic about the benefits that he landed a job as a leisure attendant.

After cycling around the Isle of Wight for charity he vowed to ride the length of the UK for Help for Heroes.

Speaking earlier this year a district council spokesman said: “Arthur has overcome a lifetime of ill-health to face the challenge of riding from Scotland to Cornwall.”

Bryn Parry, Help for Heroes’s chief executive, said: “I would very much like to pay our respects to Arthur and to recognise his contribution. He died while raising money to help others and that is admirable and must be remembered.

“We would like to pay tribute to a wonderful man who will be missed by all who knew him.”