IT is the second year running that 27-year-old Will Beveridge has spent Christmas away from his North-East family in a bid to chase his dream of becoming a world champion.

The postal worker, who lives at St Helen Auckland, near Bishop Auckland, County Durham, made his debut in the Ice Speedway World Championships, in America, last year.

He not only thrilled the crowds with his motorbike racing talent, but thousands were delighted to witness his marriage to long-term girlfriend Andrea, in a ceremony on the ice before a race meeting, and for which he was dressed in his leathers.

Andrea said: "It wasn't something we planned to do, but I am glad that we did it. It was brilliant and I would never change it for all the money in the world. It was so different."

The two have been together for nine years and have set up home together in Manor Road, St Helens, Lancashire.

For Will, speedway has always been a way of life, having followed the sport throughout his childhood.

He fulfilled his dream of racing at the age of 16 when he took to the track as a reserve rider for Middlesbrough Bears. He has never looked back, racing for Newcastle Diamonds and Glasgow. He currently races for Stoke Potters, in the sport's Premier League, and for Buxton, in the Conference League.

The speedway season lasts from late March to early October, requiring Will to travel an average of 17,360 miles - and that is not including away matches.

He makes little money from it, and he said: "I just about break even. I think it costs me about £10,000 a year."

However, he cannot imagine giving up the sport.

"Obviously, I am not as good as the top riders who race in the Elite League and take part in the world championships, but I enjoy it.''

When the chance to take part in the Ice Speedway World Championships came along for the first time last year, Will grabbed it with both hands.

He had never raced on ice before and spent a lot of time practising on beaches to get used to the change in style. Will went on to claim the Rookie of the Year title and finish fourth overall.

The contest involves riders from all over the world including Sweden, Denmark, Canada and the US.

This year, he is hoping to come home with the title.

He said: "I think I can do it but there are some good riders out there and I will have to wait and see.''

Will has enjoyed tremendous support from local businesses, which have helped pay for his trip - with, from Bishop Auckland, giving him backing for a second time.

Will is supported by his new wife, but the 24-year-old admits she could not see the point of it all when she first met Will.

She said: "It was quite difficult to get into at first. I knew nothing about speedway until I met Will, but now I love it and it is a part of our lives.''

Andrea recalled how, when they were married, he had to run off the ice to get his beloved bike as she was making her grand entrance.

She said: "He was supposed to be there waiting for me and the next minute I know is he's running off to get his bike.

"The whole day was sponsored, even the dress and flowers. We had no intention of getting married when we went away last year, but somebody suggested it and we said why not.''

Andrea was unable to join her husband for the whole of the trip, which will last until March, and they spent their first Christmas as a married couple apart.

But she said she would not swap it all for the world and hoped to join him later.

She added: "There is something about the sport that is addictive and I really don't want him to stop doing it."