A CONSTRUCTION company worker who lost eight stone in just five months is to take part in a mammoth 400-mile charity bike ride across Vietnam as part of his efforts to make sure he keeps trim.

Gavin Gould, 39, weighed 24-and-a-half stone until he went on a crash diet after doctors told him he did not have long to live.

Since shedding the pounds, Mr Gould, of Oakley Court in Loughton, has become cycling crazy, regularly riding the 20 mile round trip to his work in Enfield.

And now he plans to take part in a gruelling series of fund-raising races culminating in his Far East adventure in November 2011, where he hopes to collect more than £3,000 in sponsorship for Great Ormond Street Hospital.

Mr Gould, who is originally from Wanstead in east London, is now down to around 14 stone.

He said: “For me cycling for charity is the best incentive to keep the weight off. This way I can give something back and it's a real motivating force to keep fit.

“I was always chubby as a child but I shot up in my late teens and began to do sports like ice hockey. I stopped doing that in my twenties and didn't really think much about my weight. Then one day I went to my doctor's on a totally unrelated matter and he asked to weigh me.

“He then sent me for tests at the hospital and the result's weren't good. It was really a wake-up call. My blood pressure was through the roof, my cholesterol was horrendous.”

Mr Gould managed to lose some weight by attending a gym in Chigwell, but really began to dramatically reduce the bulk when he signed up for a 'LighterLife' diet.

The controversial and often criticised programme makes participants starve themselves of regular food and have an almost entirely liquid-only diet.

Mr Gould said while he was sceptical at first, he became convinced after a one-week trial.

He said: “It was very difficult at first. I invited all my friends round and they took every bit of food left in my house. It was tough but it worked.

"I came off the programme after eight months but I still go to the Lighterlife classes to help inspire other people who are trying to lose weight.”

Mr Gould is taking part in a 54-mile long London to Brighton cycle ride in June in aid of the British Heart Foundation. To Sponsor him visit justgiving.com/gavingould To sponsor his Vietnam race visit http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/gavingould71