A group of six friends from Rotherham have smashed the challenge of a lifetime for Bluebell Wood after completing a gruelling 170-mile coast to coast bike ride.

Starting out at Morecambe, the group’s three-day pedal-powered mission took them up hill and down dale before finishing off with fish and chips on the beach at Bridlington. Their achievement all the more impressive considering the majority of them only took up cycling last year during lockdown.

Dad-of-two Andrew Needham, from Kimberworth, said they loved (almost) every minute of it.

“Lockdown did a lot of crazy things to people and that’s where it all started for us,” said Andrew, 35.

“I was on furlough from work and I decided to get a bike as I had a lot of time on my hands. It just started out with a steady ride and a few friends got involved too.

“It was then we decided to set ourselves a challenge, something to aim towards. And we thought if we’re doing it, we should try and raise some money for a local charity too.

“We all have children and we’re aware of Bluebell Wood’s work and how much it means to so many people, so it was an easy choice for us.”

As well as raising over £2,000 for Bluebell Wood, the group said the challenge gave them all something to look forward to through the various lockdowns.

“None of us had really been anywhere in such a long time before we did the ride so it did feel a bit like a lads' outing. It was really nice to get out as a group.

“Considering 20 miles would be considered a mammoth ride for us when we started out, it was tough at times.

"But we had a good laugh and knowing we were raising money for such a good cause really helped motivate us too.”

The team set out to raise £1,000 – but they’ve already topped the £2,000 mark with donations still coming in.

The group, who are all from around the Kimberworth and Wath-upon-Dearne areas, consist of Andrew Needham, Nick Jenkinson, Brett Stubbings, Sean Hudson, Tom Sayles and Jamie Lilley. They were joined in spirit by Jonathan Jenkinson, the seventh member of the team who unfortunately got injured on their first practice run but was there to cheer them on for the challenge.

Jason Gossop, Regional Fundraiser at Bluebell Wood, said: “We’d like to say a huge thank you to the group for pushing themselves to the limit for Bluebell Wood Children’s Hospice.

“It’s an incredible achievement and the fish and chips at the end were very well deserved!

“The phenomenal sum they’ve raised for Bluebell Wood will help us make precious memories with local children and families in the time they have together.”

Bluebell Wood has a variety of fundraising events people can take on to raise funds, all of which can be found by following the below link:

Challenge yourself for Bluebell Wood

“Whether you’d like to take on one of our events, or your own challenge in support of Bluebell Wood, we’d love to hear from you,” added Jason.

“Not only would you be helping to raise much-needed funds after what’s been a tough year for us a charity, you’d have plenty of fun along the way.”