A CONVERSATION in a pub led to a group of men, many who have not ridden for years, completing a punishing bike ride to support a North-East children’s charity.

Sixteen cyclists, who did little or no training, raised more than £8,000, with the 170-mile ride, over three days, from Edinburgh to their home town of Chester-le-Street.

They were given a heroes’ welcome on Sunday when they cycled up Front Street to their local, The Distillery, where the idea was formed over a few pints.

Organiser Phillip Stainsby, 36, said: “We were sitting in the pub one night with a group of lads and we thought it would be a good idea to challenge ourselves. We are not keen cyclists, some have not been on a bike for 15-20 years, but we wanted to raise money for a local cause.”

Half of the money will go towards to Heel and Toe Children’s Charity’s new hydrotherapy centre in nearby Perkinsville. The other half will be split between providing specialist care for two boys who have cerebral palsy.

One is four-year-old William Ward, whose father, Mark, 35, and uncle, Mark Brown, another organiser, took part in the ride.

Mr Ward, a sales rep from Chester-le-Street, said: “It was brutal. There was maybe three cyclists among us.

"I didn’t even have a bike and had to borrow one.

“I did not have a chance to train. Day one was almost 70 miles and when we got to Dunbar it gets very mountainous. That was something else. It was horrible, but fantastic at the same time.

“Helping the charity was everyone’s motivation and it was great to be involved in something that is actually very nice. Everyone was fully invested in it.”

The new £600,000 centre, due to open in October, will house a large hydrotherapy pool for therapy sessions, allowing the charity to extend its services for children with cerebral palsy, including physiotherapy, speech and language therapy and special educational needs tutoring.

Gary Henderson, 35, who took part in the ride because his eight-year-old nephew, Leighton, suffers from cerebral palsy, said: “Heel and Toe has helped Leighton in the past so there no question about doing it. It was very tough though. I am quite a fit lad but it was a struggle, especially the second day.”

To donate visit: justgiving.com/fundraising/williambikeride