TWO dedicated fundraisers are looking forward to swapping Darlington for Africa to take on a mammoth 450-mile charity bike ride.

Cancer survivor Michelle Thompson, who was awarded a British Empire Medal in the last New Year Honours, is jetting off on February 2 to start the grueling route from Kenya to Tanzania.

She is being joined by her friend Melanie Lancaster and together they have raised over £8,000 for Macmillan Cancer Support.

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Mrs Thompson, 44 is no stranger to tough charity challenges – she has finished the Great North Run eight times, climbed Kilimanjaro and cycled across Vietnam, among other adventures – but the mum-of-two says she is just a normal person who would ‘rather be sitting at home eating chocolate and cake’.

“I think that’s why people have given us so much support,” she said.

“I hate training - but I feel so passionately about what we do to help people with cancer and we have had the most amazing support time after time.”

Mrs Thompson and her fundraising group have raised £125,000 for Macmillan since 2004, and although 41-year-old Mrs Lancaster has also completed grueling feats such as the Three Peaks Challenge and the Great North Run, this is her first overseas charity expedition.

She said: “I am a bit apprehensive but I am looking forward to it.

“I’ve done lots of training and I hope it pays off!”

The pair will be joined by around 30 cyclists as part of Macmillan Cancer Support’s Escape to Africa challenge and will spend every night during the seven-day route sleeping in tents.