Serious heart condition doesn’t stop Wandsworth film fanatic cycling for British Heart Foundation hat-trick

Just five years on from life-threatening open heart surgery, a Wandsworth resident is cycling in the British Heart Foundation’s London to Brighton Bike Ride for the third time this summer.

Determined not to let her heart condition take over her life, Denise Parkinson is tackling the 54-mile ride on June 19.

The global entertainment director at The Telegraph was diagnosed with Mitral Valve Disease five years ago — a serious heart condition that affects blood flow and can lead to an irregular heartbeat and life-threatening heart failure.

“In 2011 I was diagnosed with Mitral Valve disease after I began to have difficulty breathing,” said Denise.

“This became so severe that I could hardly run.

“I also started to hear a strain-like sound in my chest when I yawned, loud enough that people could hear it too when they were close to me.

“Straight away a heart specialist rushed me to have open heart surgery.

“I couldn’t believe how quickly it all happened, with barely any time to think about how such a massive operation would affect mine and my family’s future.”

The road to recovery was tough for the film fanatic, but she is now fully recovered and thankful to the BHF for the life-changing surgery that has given her a new lease of life.

“The London to Brighton Bike Ride was one of many things to do on my newly-written bucket list,” said Denise.

“I love the whole London to Brighton Ride experience – the atmosphere is electrifying, it’s a great way to improve fitness and it helps raise funds for a cause that helps so many people like me.

“The event is one of the safest, most beautiful ways to ride a bike and is a great day out for everyone.”

The annual cycle attracts nearly 25,000 supporters each year and is Europe’s oldest and largest charity bike ride.

In the last 41 years the riders have collectively raised more than £57 million for the BHF’s life saving heart disease research.

“There’s always a great atmosphere, a wave of individuals sharing their experiences with heart disease through cycling,” said Nancy Smyth, head of events at the British Heart Foundation.

“With a sensible amount of training, the ride is suitable for anyone over the age of 14. We want to see women, men, families and friends come together to help us put an end to the UK’s single biggest killer.”

To sponsor Denise visit

If you would like to sign up to the London to Brighton Bike Ride visit or contact the events team on [email protected] or 0300 456 8355.

Image courtesy of Denise Parkinson, with thanks

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