Colleagues from businesses across the North East are being urged to get on their bikes later this month to raise funds for international children’s charity COCO (Comrades of Children Overseas).  The COCO UK Cycle Challenge will see teams of riders race each other from west coast to east over three days.  The North East based charity has been running the event since 2005 with long-time corporate supporter Cintra HR and Payroll Services setting the fastest time for the past nine years.

The COCO UK Cycle Challenge is one of a wide range of sports-themed fundraising initiatives that the charity undertakes.  This year, the 174-km challenge will take place from 21-23 September.  In a change from previous years, participants will cycle the Hadrian’s Cycleway, following a route alongside Hadrian’s Wall.

Four teams, made up of 12 employees from Gateshead based Cintra, are already set to saddle up to try and retain their title in 2018, after ‘The Odd Squad’ comprising of Jennifer Wallace, Tom Stewart and Andy Mackenzie, crossed the line in first place last year.  Cintra is hoping that this year’s challenge will raise thousands of pounds for COCO’s work with communities in remote regions of East Africa, which helps young people access an education that can allow them to build successful futures for themselves.

Carsten Staehr, chief executive of award-winning Cintra, who is also a COCO board member, said: “We always have a fantastic time taking part in COCO’s annual cycle challenge and are very proud that Cintra teams have recorded the fastest time in the event for the past nine years.  While we’d like to hang onto the trophy for a tenth year, we’d certainly welcome the competition and encourage teams to sign up for what is a brilliant event!

“COCO has been Cintra’s charity for many years, mainly because they make a really big difference to the lives of children in marginalised communities.  We love that the COCO team always tells us exactly how our donations are used and that the charity focuses on projects that not only have a hugely positive impact on young lives, but which are also sustainable.”

Paul Bramley, business development manager at COCO, said: “There’s still time for teams from the region’s businesses, or simply groups of friends, to bring out their competitive sides by signing up to our annual cycle challenge.  We’re always hugely grateful to Cintra for the amazing support that the company and its staff give this event, but it would be nice to see some more businesses make a strong bid to be first to finish!

“The Hadrian’s Cycleway offers a change of scenery for returning riders.  It’s a stunning journey from the Irish Sea alongside iconic Hadrian’s Wall to the east coast, and it even has fewer hills than the route we’ve followed in the past!  It’s both a tough challenge and a fantastic opportunity to raise valuable funds to support COCO’s work.” 

COCO was co-founded by Steve Cram and British Army Major Jim Panton in 200 and its headquarters are in Newcastle.  COCO’s activities have made a positive impact on 200,000 people in East Africa through 50 transformational projects covering 16 countries.  Last year COCO succeeded in reaching a major fundraising milestone of £4 million in donations received.

For further information about COCO’s UK Cycle Challenge or to sign up email  To find out more about the work of COCO visit, find the charity on Facebook or follow @COCO_Charity on Twitter.