CYCLISTS will get a rare chance to enjoy the famed birdlife and natural beauty of Foulness Island when Thorpe Bay Rotary Club holds its annual charity bike ride. later this month.

The bike ride is being held on Sunday, August 31, in aid of Southend Hospital’s Keyhole Cancer Appeal, which is backed by the Echo.

Visitors are normally only allowed on the island with the permission of Qinetiq, the company which runs the munitions testing operation there for the Ministry of Defence.

The rules are relaxed once a year to allow adults and children to see the island’s wildlife and raise cash for good causes through sponsorship.

Cyclists get to ride through the hidden villages of Courtsend and Churchend, and take in the island’s beautiful scenery and wildlife.

The Foulness bike ride has been a regular fixture in south Essex’s fundraising calendar since it was started in 2000.

A spokesman for Thorpe Bay Rotary Club said: “We are delighted once again we are able to offer cyclists the opportunity to ride on this lovely local island which cannot normally be entered without a special pass.

“This year, the ride will raise money for the new Keyhole Cancer Appeal which is aiming to raise £600,000 for the provision of a state-of-the-art keyhole surgery theatre suite at Southend Hospital. It will allow surgeons to perform the latest and most complex keyhole procedures for patients undergoing cancer and general surgery.

“Hundreds of Southend patients are likely to benefit each year, including people with bowel and prostate cancer and gynaecological conditions.

Many of these patients would have previously had to have conventional surgery, which would have meant longer hospital stays, longer recovery times and greater post-operative pain and scarring.”

Riders will be offered refreshments at Great Wakering Primary School, where the ride starts, and at the Heritage Centre and Churchend post office.

Riders can register and pay online at thorpebayrotary