A BOURNEMOUTH poet turned to pedal power to help raise money to help British troops after being inspired by a friend.

Steve Biddle, from West Howe, was moved after visiting the In Our Own Words: Soldiers Thoughts From Afghanistan exhibition at the Russell-Cotes Art Gallery and Museum by friend Derek Eland.

Derek, himself a former paratrooper, was embedded in Afghanistan with the 16 Air Assault Brigade where he asked servicemen and women to write down their feelings, hopes and fears about life in camp.

He put together 400 cards hand-written by troops on the frontline from The Irish Guards, the Royal Irish Regiment and the Parachute Regiment.

Steve wanted to raise further funds for Derek’s In Our Own Words book, so joined four others, Dave Brown, Richard Baldry, Christopher Morgan and Shaun Frisby, to tackle on the South Downs Bike Ride, covering around 120 miles over four days.

The 44-year-old, a lift engineer who is also the resident poet at The Miramar Hotel and runs a monthly Poetry Corner, raised more than £1,000 for the cause.

He said: “I was totally humbled and moved by all the postcards I read from our soldiers on the frontline in Afghanistan and it was for this reason I wanted to do something to support this worthy cause.

“The monies I raised will go to support Derek’s book charity, Combat Stress, and hopefully assist in getting this unique book published in time for its launch in November at the Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art.”