A group of cyclists got a hero’s welcome when they returned home after a 176-mile bike ride which is expected to have raised up to £4,000 for a little battler.
Seven pals saddled up for the challenging three day ride from Newcastle to Edinburgh Castle.
Between them they hope to raise between £3,000 and £4,000 to make life more comfortable for four-year-old Poppy Wilkinson.
Poppy was born with no left foot, and no toes on her right foot, after problems developed during her mum Kirby Hackworth’s pregnancy and faces years of surgery.
The sponsorship will be a major boost to Poppy’s Appeal launched so Poppy can have a private operations in the future and not have to spend long periods in a wheelchair.
Poppy’s grateful grandmother Jenny Berry, 46, said: “It means so much to us. I can’t put into words how grateful we are for what they have done.
“The money they raised will make a massive difference to Poppy’s life and her development.
“Most of the lads are family friends but three of them I only met on the weekend they did the ride.
“For complete strangers to do something like that is overwhelming. We just feel indebted to them.”
The bike ride was the idea of Dwane Douglas, a close friend of Jenny and her family, and was the second charity event he organised for Poppy’s Appeal.
He was joined on the cycle to Edinburgh Castle by Gary Roberts, Keith Roberts, George Bell, Lee Douglas, Billy Lloyd and Carl Monsen.
Dwane, who won Fundraiser of the Year in this year’s Pride of Hartlepool awards, said: “The first day was a pleasure, the second day was gruesome and the third day was great riding into Edinburgh.”
They were closely followed by Brian Minton in a support van, also used to bring the exhausted lads home.
But they cycled the last few hundred yards to a reception thrown by family and friends at the Rovers Quoit Club.
Poppy, of Dyke House, Hartlepool, lost her foot when she developed amniotic band syndrome, where fibres in the womb wrap around limbs and cut off blood flow.
She has a prosthetic foot but her leg will continue to grow requiring operations to shave the bone.