A GROUP of friends have cycled more than 300 miles to raise £15,000 for charity.

The team of 12 friends from Leigh, Canvey and Berkshire, cycled 300 miles from West Leigh Baptist Church in Leigh and finished four days later in Paris.

The team caught a ferry to Calais and cycled along the Normandy coast and on through Picardy countryside.

They made it to Paris with temperature hitting 28 degrees and were met by their support crew at the Eiffel Tower.

In addition to driving the support van all the way to Paris, the girls made sure the team was well looked after.

They would drive ahead and set up lunch and refreshment stops each day to keep them re-fuelled and ready to go for the next leg of the challenge.

The team had just three hours in Paris before making their way to the Eurostar for their return journey home.

They were met by a welcoming group of friends and family members back at West Leigh Baptist church on Sunday evening.

The charities benefiting from the challenge are Havens Hospices, Ignite a Child Africa, West Leigh Baptist Church Building Fund, the Farming Community Network and Cancer Research UK.

The biggest beneficiary was Havens Hospices which received more than £9,000.

The trip was entirely self funded so every penny of the sponsorship raised went to benefit all the worthy causes represented.

Organiser Peter Hall, 50, from Leigh said: “This just started as an idea to gather some friends to help celebrate my 50th birthday.

“Little did I know 12 of us would take up the challenge.

We were all thrilled to be part of something so special – and to have raised such a wonderful sum for our chosen charities.

“It was worth all the pain and effort however to arrive in Paris with such an overwhelming sense of achievement.”

The team thanked those who sponsored and supported them, including S&J vehicle hire in Wickford, which donated a van for the support crew free of charge.

To donate to the team’s fundraising effort, visit www.justgiving.com/Dean- Lofts/