Hundreds of cyclist from all over the UK and the Republic of Ireland were today (Friday, June 24) set to face a 24-hour charity challenge at Rockingham circuit in Corby.
At 5pm, the 1,400 M&S employees saddled up ready to use pedal power to raise £1.5m for five charities.
Among them was Tony Lyon, store manager at Kettering, who was joined by Pete Dobson, manager of the Northampton store, Paul Johnson, commercial manager from M&S in Bedford and Darren Collinson, manager from the company’s Stevenage shop, who made up a regional team.
The fundraisers, who will be cycling in relay teams until 5pm tomorrow, are taking part in Bike24 to support Breakthrough Breast Cancer, Action Medical Research, the Marie Keating Foundation, Action Cancer and Prostate Cancer UK.
Mr Lyon said: “I’m a bit apprehensive but looking forward to the challenge too. We will be doing an hour each to start with and a two-hour stint each. I’m first to do that. It means we will all get a six-hour break.
“After that we’re doing one and two-hour turns. Today and tomorrow we have an exercise bike at the Kettering store and we’ll be taking donations from customers while members of staff cycle.
“I started training in April. I didn’t even own a bike then but I’ve lost two stone in weight since I started training.”
The team is hoping to raise about £800.
Linda Keating, sister of Irish singer Ronan Keating, was at Rockingham to cheer the cyclists on.
The Marie Keating Foundation was formed after the death of Ronan and Linda’s mother Marie from breast cancer in 1998. The charity aims to provide women and their families with vital information which could help them to prevent cancer or detect it at its earliest stages.
Linda said: “This is a terrific effort by M&S which has supported us for the past 12 years. The cyclist here today are not athletes and so they all deserve praise for their amazing effort and support.
“Ronan wasn’t able to be here but he’s really grateful to everyone who is taking up the challenge.”
Linda was at the event with 52 cyclist, who made up Team Ireland.