THREE keen cyclists are to tackle the gruelling Lands End to John O’Groats route to raise funds for a charity that has transformed the life of a young boy.

Mike Dixon, of Darlington, will be joined by friends Arthur Caygill, from Richmond, and Roy Taylor, from Northallerton, on the 1,000 mile ride to raise funds for Dogs for the Disabled.

Mr Dixon, 45, was inspired to raise funds for the charity after it provided an assistance dog, cocker spaniel Vito, to his 11-year-old son, Thomas, who has quadriplegic cerebral palsy, three years ago.

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Mr Dixon, operations director for a steel fabrication company, said: “Cerebral palsy affects Thomas’s whole body, especially his legs, and he has very limited ability to walk.

“Just before his eighth birthday, Dogs for the Disabled matched him with Vito.

“We owe so much to Dogs for the Disabled - Thomas’s life has been completely transformed by Vito, who has become his special friend and like a brother to him.

“Vito helps Thomas take off his jacket, gloves, socks and trousers and fetches Thomas’s pyjamas when he’s getting ready for bed.

“Thomas can’t lean forward to get the TV remote but Vito will fetch it and pick up anything Thomas drops.”

Mr Caygill, 69, who runs Caygill Cycles, in Richmond, signed up to support Mr Dixon and to complete his life-long dream of completing the long distance challenge, while Mr Taylor is celebrating his 60th birthday in style.

The charity must raise £12,000 to train each assistance dog and almost £20,000 to fund the dog for its working life.

Thomas said he can’t imagine life without Vito and added: “Meeting Vito for the first time was the best day of my life. I love him. He’s always there for me. He is one in a million."

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