THREE friends showed true grit to raise money for a charity that is close to their hearts.
Michael Botham, Dave Smith and Mike Miller raised more than £7,000 for the Puffin Appeal when they cycled Coast to Coast . . . in France.
In a stern test of endurance, the retired men cycled for up to 70 miles and seven hours a day.
They journeyed from Bordeaux on the Atlantic coast to Sete on the shores of the Mediterranean in six days.
The Puffin Appeal is backed by The Journal and aims to raise £2m to build a respiratory unit for children in Newcastle. Nearly £350,000 has been raised already.
The unit will improve the lives of children with conditions like cystic fibrosis, pneumonia and asthma.
Former dentist Mike said: “We decided to raise money for the Puffin Appeal as a close friend’s daughter has cystic fibrosis.
“It was important to all of us so it seemed like the best choice.
“We were elated when we had finished, but so tired. It was definitely worth it as it was so enjoyable.
“But it was hard work, there is no doubt about that. It was brilliant to raise so much money for the Puffin Appeal, we hoped to raise £5,000 originally.
“I would definitely do it again, but I’m not sure that we all feel the same about it.”
The friends, who have known each other for years and live near to each other in Jesmond and Gosforth, Newcastle, stayed at hotels along the carefully planned route.
A new building is under construction at the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle and space has been set aside for the respiratory unit.
Respiratory care is particularly pressing in the region as the North of England has some of the highest reported rates of childhood asthma in the world.
Breathing disorders account for almost half of the acute admissions of children to hospitals in the region and resources are being stretched to the limit.
At the moment, children from as far away as Scotland and Ireland travel to Newcastle for specialist care.
To donate to the Puffin Appeal visit www.puffinappeal.com or write to The Puffin Appeal, No. 7 Beaufront Castle, Hexham, Northumberland, NE46 4LT.