Survivor of five heart attacks, aged 20, defying docs to cycle 450 miles


A 20-year-old who has already survived five heart attacks is defying doctors to cycle 450 miles across Scotland.

Colin Sutherland has three holes in his heart and his parents were warned he was unlikely to live beyond the age of eight.

But the betting shop assistant is determined to take a gamble with his own life by cycling from John O’Groats to Kirkmaiden, Dumfries and Galloway.

Colin, from Lochgelly, Fife, is undertaking the six-day charity ride in July against the advice of his doctor and in the face of pleas from his fiancee and family to stay at home.

Colin is determined to make the journey
Colin is determined to make the journey

Colin has suffered from tachycardia arrhythmia since birth. The holes in his heart can trap air and stop the organ beating. At other times, his heart rate can be four times the normal rate.

The cycle trip from the most northerly point in Scotland to the most southerly will raise at least £3,000 for a cancer charity in tribute to his grandparents, whose lives were claimed by the disease.

He said: “When I was younger I was terrified that the condition was going to kill me. My heart actually stopped when I was younger so technically it already did.

“I have an irregular heartbeat and was in and out of hospital a lot when I was younger. My parents were told I wouldn’t see eight, then 12, then 18 – and here I am 20 years old.

“Last year I had two mini heart attacks. I was just sitting in the house and I thought it was heartburn. Luckily my fiancée was there to phone the ambulance or that would have been it.”

In spite of his recent brush with death and the advice of his specialist doctors, Colin has pushed ahead with his plan

He said: “The doctor said I must be mad, but I’ve never looked back and nothing is going to stop me, I’ve got no fear about it.

“I’ve just got to live my life. You can’t walk about thinking about how your life is going to end.

“I’m not the type to just sit down and accept things.

Speaking about the concern of his family and friends, he explained: “I understand people are going to be worried. It’s determination. If I can tell myself I’m going to do it, then I can do it.

“My dad wasn’t best pleased. I said, ‘I’m going to do a charity cycle.’ He said, ‘Have you had a drink?’ I said, ‘No’.

“He said, ‘Are you winding me up?’ I said, ‘No.’ He said, ‘I’m very concerned about you on this trip. I think you’re going to die of a heart attack.’

“If I died at 21 then at least I’ll have done the stuff I wanted to do. If you sit around wrapped in cotton wool you could die anyway.”

Colin – who suffered his first heart attack at just two months old – has revealed that he is not even an experienced cyclist.

He aims to raise £3,000
He aims to raise £3,000

He said: “I’m not a keen cyclist. Hopefully I will be by the end of this trip. I don’t know why I decided to do this instead of something else – I heard a few friends say they were doing a charity cycle someday.

Describing his motivation for the mammoth journey, he said: “My grandad died five years ago from throat cancer and my gran died just over a year ago.

“I was very close to my grandad and growing up he was my best friend as well, so I want to raise money for Cancer Research.

“I always spoke about doing something to raise money and when I got out of hospital I thought it was time to do it, not just talk about it.

“The emotion I’ve got is unbelievable”, Colin said, explaining that he has set himself the target of raising £3,000 for the charity.

Colin is due to marry fiancée Danielle on 21st August – just days after completing the journey.

He said that whilst she was worried for him she had given her blessing for the trip.

But, he added: “My dad said to me, if the cycle doesn’t kill you the wedding probably will.”