Miracle man John set for Maggie’s bike & hike

John Bonthrone and his daughter Leigh who are doing the Maggie's Bike and Hike this May
John Bonthrone and his daughter Leigh who are doing the Maggie's Bike and Hike this May

A Kirkcaldy man who survived major lifesaving surgery against all odds five years ago is taking part in an event for a charity close to his heart.

John Bonthrone (46) is forming a team to tackle this year’s Monster Bike and Hike in aid of our Maggie’s Centres.

This will be the third year he has supported the challenge which involves a 31-mile cycle through the Great Glen Way followed by a hike of nine, 23 or 41 miles on May 3-4.

The father-of-one is part of the support team for the bike and hike, and is doing the event to give something back to Maggie’s as a thank-you for all the support the charity gave his family following his lifesaving operation.

John, who works as a cost estimator with oil and gas engineering company Amec, was only give six to nine months to live if he didn’t have surgery after scans revealed he had a tumour which was the size of a small melon wrapped around his spine.

He told The Press: “I was breathless for a while and was gradually becoming more ill, but being stubborn I didn’t want to go to the doctor.

“It was my wife, Amber, who made me an appointment. An X-ray found I had fluid on my lung.

I was admitted to Victoria Hospital and a CT scan was done - that’s when they discovered the tumour. I had a 50-50 chance of dying during the operation and there was the same risk I could be paralysed if I survived.”

The surgery at Edinburgh’s Western General lasted 56 hours and involved removing parts of his spine and ribcage to get to the tumour then rebuilding him using a complex web of titanium and bone grafts from his thigh. His heart stopped twice during the operation which saw surgeons removing seven vertebrae, inserting four titanium ribs and two titanium rods down the length of his spine and removing the lower part of his right lung.

John’s recovery was hard and he had no idea if he would ever walk again.

“I was in intensive care for weeks and had to have intensive physio. - but Amber was the biggest player in it all.

‘‘She did the bulk of looking after me and got me back on my feet again, and made sure I had all the physio and equipment I needed.

‘‘And the support she got from Maggie’s helped her to help me .”

His daughter Leigh (15) has also been a big support and she is also backing the team for the bike and hike.

John said: “We have a bigger team this year of six guys and we have raised around £1000 so far. I am very lucky to still be here and I never forget that.

I promised myself that when I got better I would do something to help Maggie’s – it is a charity I will always support.”

Visit www.justgiving.com/Team-Amec