A WILTSHIRE Police call handler who is registered blind is about to take on the challenge of a lifetime cycling in tandem 250 miles from Land’s End to Bradford on Avon.

Anthony Bristowe, 60, who lives in Bradford on Avon, works in the Crime & Communications Centre in Devizes on the 101 central call handling team, accompanied by his black Labrador guide dog Nimmo.

Prior to joining Wiltshire Police three years ago, Anthony ran his own sandwich catering business, Daisylands, in Bath for many years before his sight began to diminish.

He has suffered from macular degeneration since the age of 11.

Nimmo is now reaching retirement, so Anthony wanted to show his appreciation for the tremendous support he has received over the years from the Guide Dogs charity.

“Finding Nimmo has made all the difference to my life. I’ve had him for about six and a half years."

“As my sight has diminished he has enabled me to get out and about independently and with confidence,” said Anthony, who has also been skydiving and white water rafting in recent years.

“It costs Guide Dogs £42,300 to breed and train every single dog. That’s a huge amount of money and I wanted to give something back.”

Anthony and his cycling partner Simon Taylor, from Warminster, discovered their mutual love of cycling when they met at the local Sounding It Out choir in Trowbridge.

“This is the first time I have ever done anything like this,” said Anthony.

“We are expecting it to take about six days, as the journey will be very hilly.”

Their cycling marathon starts on Monday, October 16, with a route mapped out along quiet country lanes in Cornwall, Devon, Somerset and Wiltshire.

After six days they are due to arrive in Bradford on Avon on Saturday, October 21 for a welcome reception at 4pm hosted by riverside pub restaurant Timbrell’s Yard.

The tandem team will be joined by friends and some of Anthony’s police staff colleagues – including Wiltshire Police Chief Constable Mike Veale – to cycle the last 40 mile leg of the journey.

Anthony and Simon have set up a Just Giving page www.justgiving.com/fundraising/findingnimmo for anyone wishing to give a donation to help reach their £5,000 target they hope to raise for Guide Dogs. So far, Anthony has raised around £3,000.

Software communications supplier APD Communications, who supply command and control software to Wiltshire Police to enable its 999 control centre operators to communicate effectively, are also supporting Anthony’s cause by sponsoring the branded cycle tops for the outriders on the last leg of the ride.

APD have also made a £500 donation to the cause.

APD managing director Mike Isherwood said: “We were really impressed when we heard about Anthony’s fundraising cycle ride and instinctively wanted to support him.

“Wiltshire Police is one of our long-standing customers and this sponsorship is a continuation of our excellent working relationship. Good luck to Anthony, Simon and the whole team!”

Guide Dogs relies on donations from the public to run its services, with less than one per cent of its income from government funding.

Every hour someone in the UK starts to lose their sight and nearly two million people in the UK live with a sight loss that has a significant impact on their daily lives.

The charity works to give people with sight loss like Anthony the confidence and skills they need to live the life they choose.