Pedal power for charity

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A team of proud firefighters received a rousing reception back in the centre of Fakenham at the end of a charity 400-mile bike ride around Norfolk this week.

The fundraising effort was organised to mark the first anniversary of the blaze at the former Aldiss department store in the town on May 25 last year.

The Fakenham fire crew were the first on the scene with colleagues from across the county rushing to assist as the fire engulfed upstairs flats and neighbouring shops.

The sponsored ride, which took in all 42 of Norfolk’s fire stations, has already raised over £4,000 for the Fire Fighters Charity with the total expected to far exceed this.

Most of those taking part were no more than casual bike riders.

One of them, Ian Grand, admitted: “It must be 15 years since I last got on a bike. The first day was really hard but things got better after that.”

Jamie Francis, who had put in some training miles prior to the challenge, said: “It was very enjoyable.

“Some cyclists from the stations we visited joined us along the way which was great.

“Only one rider fell off and amazingly we had no punctures throughout the whole 400 miles. The weather was perfect with just a couple of hours rain.”

On the team’s return to Fakenham, the reception party in the town square included mayor Jeremy Punchard, Norfolk’s chief fire officer Nigel Williams and Tim Aldiss, whose family owned the destroyed building which had been leased to the Original Factory Shop.

Mr Punchard said: “These guys are used to arduous activities but to cycle 100 miles a day for four days is a fantastic achievement.

“It’s also important to realise that this is a retained service so the money raised will go to help families as well as individuals.”