Rugby lads’ coastal trek

Standing (left to right) Darren Mayes, Mark Mayes, Darren Mulvihill, Brian Armstrong, Liam Armstrong, Aaron Jeffries, Paul Barker, Paul Arnell, Eve booth.''Sitting (left to right) Mick Henderson, Gerry McMullen.
Standing (left to right) Darren Mayes, Mark Mayes, Darren Mulvihill, Brian Armstrong, Liam Armstrong, Aaron Jeffries, Paul Barker, Paul Arnell, Eve booth.''Sitting (left to right) Mick Henderson, Gerry McMullen.

RUGBY players swapped the scrum for the saddle when they tackled a gruelling charity bike ride to raise vital funds for a hospice.

Eleven players and associates of Hartlepool Rovers Rugby Club took part in a 220-mile Coast and Castles ride from Edinburgh to Hartlepool.

They are not far from reaching their target of £2,000 in sponsorship which will go to Hartlepool and District Hospice.

Thirteen cyclists from the club did the coast-to-coast ride from Whitehaven to Hartlepool last year and raised £2,000 for the Wells Avenue facility.

The group carried out the epic ride in aid of the hospice as it is close to their hearts.

Brian Armstrong, who has a son Liam, 16, is a former junior team coach with the club and the pair took part in both this year’s and last year’s events.

He felt the hospice would be a fitting cause as it cared for his father, also Brian, from the Headland, who passed away eight years ago.

The ride took place in the first weekend of July.

Riders took a train to Edinburgh and hired a bus to take their bikes up north.

The cyclists took just over two days to bike back to town, via towns including Musselburgh, Haddington, Dunbar, Berwick, Alnmouth, Whitley Bay, South Shields, Sunderland and onto the Hart to Haswell walkway.

They stayed in a hostel in Berwick on the Friday night and a hotel in Ashington on the Saturday.

Brian, who lives in the Clavering area, said: “Whereas the coast to coast was a strenous challenge, the coast and castles was more of an endurance test.

“I’m just over the moon that everyone got through it and looking forward to next year’s challenge.

“It was fantastic, we had three days of sunshine and not a breath of wind.

“We are getting into the habit of trying to do something every year for the hospice.

“I think everybody has been touched in some way by the hospice, everybody seems to know someone who has been affected by cancer.”

The group trained for the mammoth ride by taking part in 50-mile preparatory rides in the build-up to the event.

There is still time to help the group reach their £2,000 target.

To sponsor the riders, visit www.hartlepoolmail.co.uk and click on the link.