SOUTHEND United footballers pedalled their way through a morning of exercise in aid of Southend Hospital.

Manager Phil Brown and players took to the exercise machines at the Roslin Beach Hotel, Thorpe Bay, as part of efforts to raise £600,000 for a new new keyhole surgery theatre.

The hospital’s charitable foundation, backed by the Echo, is raising the money through an Around the World in 80 Days Challenge–where it is taking five bikes around Essex in the hope of getting volunteers to complete 24,901.55 miles.

Keyhole surgery is performed through a small incision rather than normal, invasive surgery.

This means a quicker recovery time for patients, as well as less pain and a reduced infection risk.

It is used for a vast number of operations, from removing bowel and prostate cancer tumours, gall stones and kidney stones to surgery for appendicitis, hernia repairs, gynaecology and joint problems.

Surgeon Mike Dworkin, said: “The new theatre will deliver high resolution 3D-images allowing us to perform the latest and most complex procedures far more easily. Increased efficiency means we will be able to treat even more patients.

“It really will make a massive difference to people’s lives.”

The fundraising effort will run until the end of April at different locations and the public is invited to take part.

People must raise a minimum of £15 sponsorship to qualify.

To get involved, visit or call 01702 385337.