A HARD-WORKING charity cyclist marked a year of fundraising with a gruelling 297 mile bike ride from London to Paris.

Francis Mills, of Una Road, Parkeston, trained vigorously for the challenge, overcoming the loss of his specialist bike after it was snatched from his workplace in June.

Left without his £550 white Trek bike, the fundraiser saw supporters far and wide rush to his aid, helping to fund a replacement.

Mr Mills spent four days in the saddle, covering 90 miles on his longest day, all to support Dovercourt seven-year-old Harry Rolph Wills – who is fighting Batten Disease.

The condition is terminal, striking children at a young age and deteriorating their sight, mobility and speech.

He said: “After a year of fundraising and a good few months of training I have completed my little challenge of riding from London to Paris.

“I had a few problems chuck ed in on route, including my bike getting stolen, a low turn out to my first fundraiser – but I have kept plugging away.

“The French countryside was very nice to ride through, we passed through the Somme area and stopped off at some very humbling graves from the First World War.

“We cycled roads that Le Tour would cycle the following day, around a town called Chantilly.

“Once we got into Paris the riding became a bit more difficult, the volume of traffic, traffic lights and less lenient drivers.

“We all met up at The Lourve, from here all 174 cyclists cycled on mass up the Champs-Elysees and around the Arc de Triomphe.

“This was an experience as traffic just came from all directions.

“We then rode on to the Eiffel Tower where our challenge was complete with a champagne celebration.”

He added: “On the ride I didn’t really suffer too much.

“I think the 1000 miles worth of training really helped, there were people of all ages taking part – all for different causes.

“I have so far raised £2,800 for Batten Disease Family Association, which isn’t a bad effort.”

Mr Mills tackled the challenge on Sunday, July 24.