Former England player and cancer survivor Geoff Thomas intends to celebrate his tenth anniversary in remission by cycling more than 2,500 miles to thank the doctors who saved his life.

Mr Thomas, who once played for Wolves, was diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukaemia in 2003 and was given less than three years to live.

But treatment by Cure Leukaemia's co-founder Professor Charlie Craddock, based at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham, and a bone marrow transplant from his sister Kay saved his life.

Now the 50-year-old, who lives in Barnt Green, has set himself the mammoth task of two cycling challenges next year in a bid to help Cure Leukaemia support the work of Prof Craddock and raise £2 million to help find a cure for the killer disease.

The first will take place in June, when he will be joined by 300 cyclists from London to Paris, covering 80 miles a day over four days.

The second challenge involves cycling the Tour de France route before the real event, which takes in 2,276 miles over 21 days.

It is not the first time Geoff had taken part in either of the gruelling tasks. But he laughed as he admitted he is yet to start training.

"The London to Paris ride is a really achievable event for everyone and I've done it eight times before," he explained.

"Whereas I have only done the Tour de France challenge once. It is more for the elite cyclists, and so there will be only around 20 people taking part with me.

"We will experience what it is like to do the tour, and there will be doctors and dieticians on hand and rolling road blocks for both events.

Former England international footballer Geoff Thomas
Former England international footballer Geoff Thomas
 

"I haven't started my training yet, but we will be averaging around 100 miles a day over 21 days. It is hardcore but we have people interested in taking part. We will get to see some of the actual Tour de France participants overtaking us."

Geoff explained why he's decided to carry out the bike rides.

"I owe my life to Charlie and his team and I have always been honoured to be a patron of this great charity," he said.

"Now, I want to get more involved and help to raise funds that I know will make a direct impact on the treatment of people who are in the same position as I was a decade ago. Birmingham is in a special position to find a cure for this terrible disease and we don't shout loudly enough about the work being done here.

"The advances that have been made in the ten years since I was diagnosed are staggering and I want to help continue that progress by returning home to Cure Leukaemia by working towards raising £2 million over the next two years."

The money raised by Geoff will allow Professor Craddock and the clinical teams based at the Centre for Clinical Haematology at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital and across the West Midlands to continue to drive forward the development and delivery of new drugs and transplants for patients with blood cancer.

Birmingham‘s many strengths in biomedical research give it unique opportunity to work towards the identification of cures for the whole range of blood cancers within the next 30 years and Geoff's fundraising will be essential in order to ensure patients access these new and potentially life-saving therapies as rapidly as possible.

Geoff added: "Coming back to Cure Leukaemia next year marks a huge milestone for me as I will be celebrating ten years in remission. It feels like a comfort blanket as it helped me at a time when it was looking very dark. I am eternally grateful for everything they have done."

To support Geoff visit: cureleukaemia.co.uk/page/news/124/join-me-for-my-revolution