A PIONEERING North-East charity is gearing up for its first outdoor fundraising event since lockdown started more than four months ago.

Ride Infinity – a 162-mile cycle ride across four counties – starts on Saturday morning in aid of the North East Autism Society (NEAS).

A total of 21 riders, supported by six sponsors, will tackle the ride over the weekend, aiming to raise £10,000 for the charity, which is celebrating its 40th anniversary.

The riders will include NEAS chief executive John Phillipson, who said: “Charities have been really hard hit by the pandemic, and we are no exception.

“We rely heavily on the generosity of fundraisers but many of our regular events have had to be cancelled or postponed during lockdown.

“The staff have done a fantastic job arranging a host of virtual events but it’s lovely to be able to get outside in the fresh air with our first major fundraising event since the lockdown began.”

The riders will pedal from the charity’s headquarters on the outskirts of Chester-le-Street to Penrith, stay overnight, and then cycle back in a route that forms the shape of the charity’s infinity loop logo.

The event was supposed to take place on June 13 and 14 but had to be postponed due to the coronavirus crisis. It is going ahead with a range of additional safety measures in place.

The ride is being sponsored by Gama Systems, BGL, Leathers, Cleardata, Activa, and Challenge Northumberland, and Mr Phillipson added: “Events like this depend on sponsors and we are so grateful to these business for their generous support.”

Anyone who wishes to make a donation should go to www.justgiving.com/John-Phillipson4

After Ride Infinity, the next NEAS fundraising event is a skydive at the Skydive Academy, Peterlee Parachute Centre, Shotton Airfield, on September 5. Anyone wishing to take part should go to: https://www.ne-as.org.uk/Event/skydive2020