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'Inspiring' double amputee cyclist dies after crash in charity event

Lost legs in IRA tank attack and went on to support others in same situation

A double amputee cyclist who dedicated his life to supporting others has died unexpectedly in hospital after a collision with a telegraph pole on a charity ride.

Paul Burns was riding the 52-mile Three Counties Bike Ride with friends of the British Limbless Ex-Service Men’s Association (BLESMA) - the charity he tirelessly supported, when the collision happened, and he broke his femur.

He died a week later in the Royal Berkshire Hospital on June 7.

The 52 year old lost one his legs when an IRA bomb hit the tank he was travelling in, in 1979. 18 of his colleagues died and Mr Burns's legs were burned to the bone. He lost one leg then, aged 18, and another was removed last January due to long term pain.

Within a couple of months he was back parachuting and cycling and took part in the opening ceremony of the 2012 Paralympics as part of the high wire act.

Jerome Church, general secretary of BLESMA, told Get Hampshire: “He was an extraordinarily nice man and a classic BLESMA mentor – always calm under pressure.

“In the great BLESMA tradition of member looking after member, he reassured those recently injured that there was indeed a life ahead, and inspired so many to seek it out.

“He always went for a challenge, whether it be BLESMA ski-biking in the Alps, skippering a 65ft yacht with an all-amputee BLESMA crew on the tough Fastnet offshore sailing race, passing on his skills as a sailing instructor on the Gwenilli Trust for disabled sailors, horse riding, canoeing and much else besides.

“Paul Burns will be remembered as a good man who suffered much and overcame all.”

We've also dug out this video of Mr Burns talking about his inspiring life story:


After an unpromising start, having to be bribed by her parents to learn to ride without stabilisers, Sarah became rather keener on cycling in her university years, and was eventually persuaded to upgrade to proper road cycling by the prospect of a shiny red Italian bike, which she promptly destroyed by trapping a pair of knickers in the rear derailleur. Sarah writes about about cycling every weekend on

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