TEN men and women from Colchester helped to launch a £25,000 charity drive, which will culminate in a bike ride from Land’s End to John O’ Groats.

They are part of a group of at least 20 cyclists and have begun training and fundraising ahead a 1,000-mile challenge next summer in support of Action Duchenne.

The charity is trying to fund a cure for Duchenne muscular dystrophy, a condition which gradually causes muscles to weaken.

The Colchester contingent includes Paul Lenihan, Action Duchenne’s chief executive, and the fathers of two boys with the condition.

Damien Culhane’s son Ben, 15, suffers from muscular dystrophy and will shortly begin his final year at St Benedict’s College. Ben is wheelchairbound but still has plenty of upper body strength.

Damien, a keen cyclist, said: “This is a great opportunity to help raise money for a charity, which is very close to our hearts and which has done so much to help out with research.

“Ben’s life can be challenging, so doing a challenge like this seems almost insignificant.”

The ten-day ride will take place from July 26 to August 4 next year.

A series of events, including formal dinners, Irish music evenings, quizzes, tea parties and challenges will raise money over the next year.

Several of the team began their training in earnest last month by taking on the 50-mile route of the Essex Castle bike ride.

The team also includes Chris Powart, whose son Tomas, seven, is just beginning to be affected by the condition. Chris is planning to tackle an Iron Man in Spain ahead of the cycle ride.

Mr Lenihan, who took over as chief executive of Action Duchenne last year, said: “We deliberately started the launch a year in advance because of lot of us need to get fit for it.

“We’re also hoping to use the event to highlight the regional variations that exist in treatment for this pernicious condition.”

Organisers need corporate sponsors. For more information, visit actionduchenne.org or e-mail paul@actionduchenne.org