A FORMER Royal Marine and Special Forces veteran is in for some saddle sores as he makes his way through the region on his nationwide charity bike ride – on a 1940s butcher’s bike.

Ex-butcher Nigel Thomas turned a few heads as he rode through Darlington town centre this morning (Monday, August 25) on his 67-year-old single-gear bike as part of his 1,027 mile cycle challenge from Land’s End to John O’Groats.

The 51-year-old, from Llangain, in Wales, aims to raise £1m for charities that are close to his heart, including Team Army, Hire a Hero, Walk on Wales and the Ray Gravell Trust.

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“We all rely upon our soldiers to be there when we need them,” said Mr Thomas.

“I’m doing this for all the boys and girls in the Forces who need our help now – a chance to play the sports that are so vital to their physical and mental wellbeing, to find a job after leaving the military or perhaps help recovering from injury or illness.”

Mr Thomas is riding from Bedale, in North Yorkshire, to Newcastle on the eighth day of his 13-day challenge, at the end of which he hopes to set a new Guinness World Record.

He said: “The last couple of days have been very tough, I have been quite fatigued. But the people up here are so lovely; it has been fantastic to see the support from them.”

His close friend, TV presenter Bear Grylls added: “This is going to be a tough challenge but that’s Nigel through and through.

“He is determined to help those who most need it and to do it the hard way and with a smile to the world.”

To track his progress or to donate visit butchersbikechallenge.org.uk or text TBBC14 with the amount you would like to donate to 70070.