A POPULAR fundraising bike ride in aid of an innovative North-East charity will return with a difference for the event’s seventeenth year.

The annual Butterwick Big Bike Ride, which has raised more than £100,000 for Butterwick Hospice Care since 2003, will return this year as a socially-distanced virtual cycling event.

Sarah Preston, Engagement Executive for Butterwick, said: “Due to government restrictions, and to ensure everybody taking part remains as safe as possible, for the first time in 17 years we’ve decided to shake things up and make the Big Bike Ride a virtual event!

“This means that instead of cancelling or postponing the event, we’re passing the handlebars to our riders so they can still take part in their bubbles and in ways which suit them.

“We hope this will allow us to carry on the community spirit that the event has become famous for, help hopefully make this the biggest ride yet!”

Brian Hutchinson, who launched the yearly event in 2003 in memory of his sister Christine who received care from the hospice, said: “This year’s ride has been completely different to in the past, but it would be great if people can still take part and raise as much as possible during these uncertain times. I look forward to seeing everyone in person again next year.”

Riders are encouraged to cycle 26 miles following any safe route they like, at a time to suit them, and raise as much as they can to support Butterwick Hospice’s work caring for terminally ill children, young people, and adults throughout the region.

Matt Emmerson, owner of event sponsor Foodcell, said: “As a local lad, I’m very aware of how Butterwick is a vital part of the fabric of the community and the great service they do. As Foodcell aims to be a convenient nutrition solution for cyclists, I felt this event was not only the perfect fit for our product, but a great opportunity to raise valuable funds for such a worthy cause.

“There will necessarily be a slightly different arrangement this year, but I’m sure everyone who takes part will still have a lot of fun ‘pedalling for pounds’, and long may the Big Bike Ride continue!”

Entry costs £10 each, and every cyclist will receive a comprehensive fundraising pack containing everything they need to take part and fundraise safely. Enter by calling 01642 628930 or by emailing fundraising@butterwick.org.uk