A SECURITY guard cycled from London to Paris in honour of the hospice staff he hailed as 'heroes'.

Mathew Obeng, a car park and security officer at the Churchill Hospital, was so inspired by the care at Sobell House Hospice that he took on a 320-mile sponsored ride to the French capital.

The former Army lance corporal, who served two tours in Iraq, spent the last week of July on a gruelling route from Crystal Palace to the Eiffel Tower.

Father-of-three Mr Obeng, who lives in Berinsfield, said it was a tough challenge due to sweltering heat of 37 degrees Celsius and steep uphill climbs.

But he added: "It was not as hard as the work that goes into Sobell House.

"Going through the emotion and difficult situations every day as part of their day job makes everyone at Sobell House a hero in my eyes."

Sobell House is based on the Churchill Hospital site in Headington, where Mr Obeng began working shortly after leaving the Army in 2010.

He said he had got to know some patients, adding: "When they start chemo and come for parking permits, you build a bit of a relationship.

"I know some of them for three or four years before [their illness] goes downhill.

"I know how hard it can be, and I’m not half as close to them as the nurses and care team at the hospice. They are incredible.

"I wanted to do something to say thank you for all they do."

The London to Paris Bike Ride saw Mr Obeng cycle alongside other participants over a period of four days, cycling to Dover before getting a ferry to Calais.

He reached the iconic landmark on the Sunday before last, July 29, coinciding with the end of the Tour de France in Paris.

So far Mr Obeng has raised more than £3,000 through sponsorship money, just shy of his ambitious £3,500 target.

He had previously cycled a 54-mile ride from London to Brighton, and a 100-mile ride from London to Surrey, but the French feat was his longest distance yet.

He said: "I had a good time because I prepared and put a lot of effort in, so it was just another day in the saddle, but with extreme and unexpected weather and steeper hill gradients compared to Oxfordshire.

"It was the first time I have been to the Eiffel Tower so it was interesting to see it."

He said the challenge 'didn't break me' and he has already set his sights on a bigger adventure - potentially the 900 miles from Land's End to John o' Groats.

Bert Corbyn-Smith, a fundraiser at Sobell, said: "The effort that people are willing to put in in order to fundraise is amazing.

"To be supported by someone who interacts with our staff and our patients on a regular basis is particularly special. We are so grateful to Mathew, and to everyone who has sponsored him."

To donate, see justgiving.com/fundraising/mathew-obeng3.