Two North East cycling enthusiasts completed their own ‘Tour of Britain’ on Sunday (3rd September), arriving back in Newcastle after an amazing challenge to raise funds for Maggie’s and the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation in memory of their friend and colleague, Andrew Grounsell.

Luke Westoe and Darren Purvis celebrate

Architect, Luke Westoe, and interior designer, Darren Purvis, (from Morpeth and Birtley respectively), created and undertook The Andrew Grounsell Challenge, not only climbing the famous Three Peaks – Snowdon, Scafell Pike and Ben Nevis – but also cycling to and from them all, too.

Incredibly, in just nine and a half days, the pair cycled and walked a total of 1,000 miles and climbed an astonishing 59,663 feet.

They were welcomed back on Sunday night to Maggie’s at the Freeman Hospital by family, friends and Lady Elsie.

On Tuesday (5th September) Darren and Luke were thanked again for their efforts by Lady Elsie and Steve Harper (Patron)

Their aim was to ‘kick cancer in the saddle’ and they have already raised almost £5,000 for the two charities, which were important to Andrew Grounsell and his family.

Maggie’s offers practical, emotional and social support for anyone affected by cancer and the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation is helping find more effective ways to detect and treat the disease.

Lady Elsie, family and friends welcome Luke and Darren home

Andrew’s widow, Jo, and two of his friends cycled part of the last day’s leg with Darren and Luke and his family were among the supporters who welcomed them home.

Commenting on the challenge, Jo says: “It’s wonderful and fantastic and I think Andrew would be absolutely thrilled that they’ve done it in his memory. In fact, I think he would have been overwhelmed by it.

“Andrew was such an advocate for the cancer care he got at Maggie’s and the Freeman Hospital. It was a great shame he wasn’t well enough to undertake the clinical trial through the Sir Bobby Centre at the end.

“And Maggie’s, for me, is the place I came when he was diagnosed and I spent a lot of time here. It got me through a really bad time.”

Andrew Grounsell, from Newcastle, was a talented architect and father-of-two. He worked alongside Luke and Darren at digital construction and design specialists, Space Group, and died last year from bowel cancer aged just 54.

Luke Westoe says: “I’m exhausted but relieved to have finished. And very happy that everyone’s come out to welcome us back to Newcastle because it’s been a very long 10 days. Ultimately, it’s been worth it though.

“Last night we had dinner with Andrew’s brother in Edinburgh and meeting Andrew’s mum here today, you can see what it means to her. I’m sure Andrew would have thanked us if he could.

“This has been a long time in the making. We’ve been planning it for six or seven months so, now it’s over, there are a lot of emotions.

“The hardest thing for me was climbing the hills. The weather on Scafell Pike was terrible.

“We had to use our GPS to navigate on the top because you couldn’t see a thing and we’d ridden 60 miles on the bike that morning. It was tough to then put our walking boots on and get to the top.

“Now I plan to have a day off and watch the Tour of Britain to see how the professional cyclists do it.”

Darren Purvis says: “For me, the 50 miles we cycled after we came down from Ben Nevis was the hardest part.

“We had to go through Glen Coe and I think we did 7,000 feet of climbing in 50 miles and that was the most tiring.

“It’s been a big adventure and it’s been great knowing what we’re doing it for and knowing everyone was supporting us.

“Even the people we met on the route, from so many different places, they were all interested to know what we were doing and why. And the fact Jo came and rode with us today meant a lot.

“I am a bit sad it’s over but I’m looking forward to sitting on the sofa tonight. And it’s been the longest I’ve been away from my partner and children.”