A LOYAL team of friends more than doubled their target as they raised £12,000 after completing a gruelling marathon charity cycle ride from Newcastle to Edinburgh.
The triumphant group made their nostalgic trip to celebrate the memory of cancer sufferer Bill Watson.
His son, James and Mike Ralph, 49, a friend, headed a vanguard of cyclists on the 120-mile cycle to coincide with the Scotland v Ireland Six Nations match at Murrayfield.
Initially, the team, many who have lost family or friends to cancer, set themselves a £5,000 target to raise funds for Macmillan and the locally based Quiet Ones charity.
But at the end of their journey, the delighted riders announced that earlier charity events, sponsorship and donations have now boosted the figure to almost £12,000.
And Richard Cotton, who owns local hire company Rentruck, donated a support vehicle for the team to carry bikes and equipment.
Speaking as the end of their trek, James, 29, a joiner from Delph, said: “It was tough, unbearable in parts, but everybody made it!
“We were blessed with the weather and passed through some beautiful parts of the country which helped to detract from the continuous hills towards the end of our first 100mile day.
“The rugby was very memorable – getting thumped by Ireland 40-10! But we didn’t go to win, we went to remember Bill which we absolutely did.”
He went on: “The response has been astonishing. The three fundraisers were all equally successful and spread awareness of the important work these charities do.”
On the ride, the group shared memories of courageous Bill, who died last year after losing his second valiant battle against cancer.
Bill’s first battle with cancer in 2011 led to him having a laryngectomy which meant he had to learn to talk though the use of a stoma.
He was back on his feet immediately and, with the help of his Macmillan speech therapist, Janice Lang, he joined The Quiet Ones Charity.
The charity helps laryngectomy patients left without vocal chords and the ability to breathe through nose and mouth.
Supported by membership fees, donations, and various fund-raising activities, the charity’s emphasis is on friendship and providing a warm and social atmosphere.
Bill helped the charity until he was diagnosed with two brain tumours and later cancer in his bones.
After two months in Oldham Royal Hospital he died in March last year – a week before his 61st birthday.
For information on The Quiet Ones, contact secretary Christine Newton: 0161 683 5617.