A group of ten amputee veterans from New Milton charity Pilgrim Bandits have smashed their fundraising target in completing an epic cycle of the length of the United Kingdom in just 13 days.

The ride from John O’Groats to Land’s End was to raise awareness of Motor Neurone Disease, after their comrade, and cycle challenge teammate John Chart, was diagnosed with the condition.

The team completed the nearly 1,000-mile challenge using push and hand bikes as well as specially adapted tandems to raise awareness and funds for both Motor Neurone Disease and the Pilgrim Bandits charity.

At the age of 48, John Chart was just -years-old when he was diagnosed with MND in July 2019, a fatal and incurable neurodegenerative disease, with a life expectancy of three to five years of symptom onset.

As a firefighter for 26 years, John said he was ‘devastated’ by the diagnosis but determined to fight it.

He added: “Motor Neurone Disease shuts down your muscular system until you are literally cocooned inside your own body, your brain is still compos mentis but you can’t move, you can’t breathe, you can’t eat, you can’t speak and your body eventually will just close down until you sadly pass away.

“This ride has been about doing everything I can to raise awareness as not enough is known about the disease - many of us participated in the Ice Bucket Challenge a few years ago but how many of us took the time to read up about what it was all about?

“That’s what I want from this challenge – I want people to take a few minutes to read-up on this demonic disease.

John used a specially adapted tandem throughout the Challenge and was joined by various companions along the way, including his 14-year-old son Christopher and his wife Arlene.

Together with John’s team of ex-military and serving firefighters, the Pilgrim Bandits team left John O’Groats on Monday August 10 and, less than two weeks later, reached Lands’ End on Saturday August 22.

The team cycled 80 miles a day, battling through the heat wave at the beginning of the challenge and torrential rain towards the end.

Having originally set themselves a fundraising objective of £10,000, the group have almost double their target by amassing over £19,000.

CEO of Pilgrim Bandits, Matt Hellyer led the expedition and kept everyone on track.

He said: “It’s been a privilege to ride alongside John and all of the injured and amputee veterans taking part – raising awareness and funds for MND and Pilgrim Bandits.

“We don’t do sympathy, but we offer camaraderie, an adventure and we believe in the power of humour over pain.

“There were long days and tired muscles, but also some much-needed banter amongst the team – we’ve had a great time and we don’t take ourselves too seriously. That’s exactly what kept us going over the 912 miles.”