1,000 miles in the charity saddle for Hartlepool couple

Jill and Alan Coyle who completed the gruelling John O'Groats to Land End bike ride

Jill and Alan Coyle who completed the gruelling John O'Groats to Land End bike ride

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THEY rode more than 1,000 miles, raised more than £3,000 and celebrated a birthday in the process – and the dedicated couple who cycled the length of the country loved every minute of it.

Alan and Jill Coyle racked up 1,070 miles on their “challenging” ride from John O’Groats to Lands End.

Alan, who celebrated his 69th birthday in the middle of the gruelling challenge, and Jill, 63, hopped on to their bikes every morning for 18 consecutive days and were averaging around 60 miles of riding every day.

And even though they were facing mile upon mile of cycling, the kind-hearted couple still took the time to take in the “lovely” surroundings, with Jill saying: “It made us both realise we live in a fantastic country – we rode through and visited some beautiful places.”

Alan, a retired television service engineer and church pastor, and Jill, who live in the Cleveland Road area of Hartlepool, both admitted they felt enormous satisfaction in completing such a challenge and even more joy in the fact they more than trebled their initial fundraising target.

The couple, who have three daughters and a son, have a friend who lives and works in the Philippines and is going about setting up an emergency medical fund for residents there.

And that fund has received a significant boost after Alan and Joy donated the £3,200 they raised through kind-hearted family, friends – and strangers – who supported their ride.

Jill, a phlebotomist, who takes blood samples from patients, said: “We were just amazed by people’s generosity.

“We had some donations from people who we didn’t even know, which is so kind of them.

“At times the ride did get difficult, it was challenging but during those tough moments you think ‘people have paid their money to support us doing this’ and it inspires you to continue.”

Jill added: “Some nights we were really tired, but the next morning we were up and ready to go again.

“It was really good, a fantastic experience.”

Jill and Alan thanked everyone who supported them in the ride and donated money.