WHEN Jonathan Smith and his girlfriend discovered they were expecting their first child together, it was the happiest day of their lives.

Little did they know that two months later life would deal them the cruellest of blows. At the age of just 33, Jon was diagnosed with terminal cancer.

The couple discovered Sarah was pregnant in January and their baby girl is due on September 25. While most first-time fathers-to-be are anxious enough waiting for the birth, Jon has been undergoing exhausting rounds of chemotherapy at the Woodlands Cancer Centre at Hinchingbrooke Hospital, since his diagnosis in March.

This Friday, six of Jon's friends, who he used to cycle with, will set off on a 300-mile cycle ride to raise money for Woodlands, where Jon is being treated. They will leave at 6am from the Pinkery Outdoor Centre in Exmoor, aiming to reach the Green Man pub in Colne, a stone's throw from Jon and Sarah's East Street home, by Sunday evening.

They chose the centre as a starting point as the venue holds a lot of happy memories for Jon, Sarah and their friends - who have celebrated the last few New Year's Eves there.

Jon described his and Sarah's as a "unique" situation and said: "We've been getting through by just focusing on the positive things. We are both young people and we were positive people before the diagnosis.

"You can't get much more positive than a newborn. It's been a real focus. We will just try to be like a normal mum and dad. The important thing for us is that the pregnancy came before the diagnosis. This baby will be born out of happiness, not sadness."

He added: "The cycle ride has given us something to focus on too. We've been helping out where we can. They started with an ambitious £3,000 target but they have raised nearly £6,000 - it suddenly went a bit crazy."

The money will go toward the Woodland Centre's campaign to raise £800,000 for a major new extension.

"The care I have received has been amazing," Jon said. "The people that work there are just amazing. I can't speak highly enough of them."

He was referred to the specialist centre in Huntingdon after being diagnosed with rectal cancer. Unfortunately, the original tumour spread and Jon was told it was incurable.

"It was just after the New Year's Eve and I had been having trouble going to the toilet," he explained. "I put it down to a bit of excess over Christmas, but it didn't go away. I went to the doctor in January and she started out by saying I was too young to have cancer..."

INFORMATION: Ashley Colcomb, Dave Allister, Andrew Wallis, Luke Mowatt, Ian Clifton and Ross Baxter, all from Ely, set off from Pinkery on September 13. To sponsor them, visit www.onyerbikecancer.co.uk