A HEREFORD GP who recently retired is making sure he does not spend his free time idly.

Dr Mark Helme worked for many years at the Cantilupe Surgery in St Owen Street and has clocked up 32 years as a GP in total.

Now he is hoping to raise £5,000 for St Michael's Hospice by cycling from Land's End to John o'Groats in a week starting on May 16.

Mark said the hospice has helped doctors in Hereford "immensely" over the years.

"When I first joined the practice in 1982 the hospice hadn't opened. We had to look after people who were dying at home or in hospitals, so the hospice helped so many of my patients over the years. Without the hospice it would have been very difficult for the patients. I wanted to try and give something back to them somehow."

Mark, 59, says he has been training frequently with his brother Joe and friend Rod Lees, who are joining him on the cycle.

"I'm quite apprehensive about it. When I've seen the weather forecast for the week I will either be very happy or I'll be groaning about it. So many things could make it harder for us, such as rain or strong winds. You really do need to train for this sort of thing. "

When he isn't cycling, Mark hopes to write a psychological murder mytsery set in Hereford, which will also raise money for the hospice.

To donate to Mark, visit www.justgiving.com/mark-helme2.