A COLCHESTER-based care home provider is celebrating after staff, residents and their relatives raised more than £41,000 for three charities.

Care UK's nationwide fundraising programme was based around cycling and fitness and its centrepiece was Ride800, a gruelling 800-mile, 15 day cycling challenge from the firm's southern-most care home in Poole, Dorset, to its northern-most in Aberdeen, Scotland.

The ride was undertaken by Andrew Knight, chief executive of residential care, Jacqui White, marketing director, and Tony Weedon, strategic programme director.

Dozens of care home colleagues also rode individual stages of the route which zig-zagged across England and Scotland to visit 26 Care UK homes.

Mr Knight said: “This has been an incredibly rewarding experience, not without its physical and mental challenges.

"The day we cycled over the Pennines and through Yorkshire in atrocious weather stands out, as does quite a hairy couple of miles sharing the A1 with some enormous lorries as we crossed into Scotland.

"However, the warmth and energy from residents, colleagues and relatives has been incredible, as has the support from many of our corporate partners who have helped us raise this fantastic amount of money.”

To support the ride, teams across Care UK undertook a variety of fundraising ventures including sponsored static bike challenges, raffles, music events and cake sales to boost the final total which will be shared between the Care Workers Charity, the Alzheimer’s Society and Alzheimer Scotland.

The Ride800 team visits also gave care home residents the chance to be part of the experience on a supported bike.

This bike accommodates two riders – a driver and a passenger – and was transported around the route in the support vehicle that accompanied the cycling team.

Mrs White added: “One of the highlights of the trip was seeing the amount of joy that the supported bike brought to residents, relatives and colleagues.

“Many of the residents who thought their cycling days were behind them were beaming when they came back from their ride – it was incredibly humbling and definitely inspired us on.”

Mr Weeden said: “We are hugely grateful to everyone who contributed to this initiative in so many ways.

"From residents who baked energy bars, relatives who joined in with the Ride800 events, colleagues who cycled along with us and put so much effort into fundraising, and to the companies that donated to help us reach this incredible total.”

Care UK is based on The Crescent at Colchester Business Park.