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Joe's two-wheeled mission to raise cash for arthritis disease charity

Tuesday 10th May 2016

A Yalding man is getting on his bike to raise funds to help a national arthritis support group.

Joe Westgate’s wife Amy was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Disease less than a year ago – at the age of only 33.

He said: “It hit her like a train and the very unwelcome visitor has not left our life since. Every day, Amy battles with different inflamed joints and other issues surrounding the condition, from constant fatigue to anxiety and depression, all while trying her hardest to care for our one-year old son and maintain a 'normal' life.”

The couple have moved from Barming to Yalding to be closer to Amy’s family and now share a house with her brother Stuart, who is able to help, along with their mum Brenda.

Amy, nee Johnson, said: “Joe often works very long hours and I’ve found I just can’t manage on my own. Fortunately, I have a brilliant supportive family.”

Amy first showed signs of the illness on the day of son Noah’s Christening at Wateringbury Church, where the couple were married four years ago.

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease and is incurable – but the symptoms can be alleviated by drugs.

However, at a recent consultation, the couple were devastated to learn that, despite medication, the condition had already begun to damage the bones in Amy's joints.

“The consultant’s words were – “the medication works for 90% of patients, unfortunately you are in the other 10%.”

“It was on hearing these words that I decided I had to do something to raise the awareness of this condition and support my wife”, said coach driver Joe. 

Consequently, Joe - who admits he’s not the fittest of people - has decided to take part in the 2016 Prudential Ride London - pedalling 100 miles around London and Surrey on July 31 in a bid to raise £1,000 for the National Rheumatoid Arthritis Support group.  Prior to that he is taking part in the London to Brighton ride – a snip at a mere 54 miles – along with Amy’s dad, West Farleigh parish councillor Larry Johnson.

Amy was brought up in West Farleigh and was a teacher in Rochester prior to having son Noah in November 2014 and was looking forward to moving up the ladder as a deputy head.

Now, she struggles to get out of bed and get dressed on some days and is unable to work or carry out many everyday tasks.