24-hour Leeds-Liverpool Canal bike ride in memory of Tom Petty

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A team of a dozen cyclists are attempting to ride the full length of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal in 24 hours to raise awareness and funds for the Tom Petty Sports Foundation.

All those taking part work or exercise at Pendle Leisure Centre in Colne, where Tom used to work.

The team will be made up of members of Pendle Leisure Trust staff, gym instructors, customers and Tom’s friends and family.

Together they are hoping to complete the 128-mile challenge in one day. They set off from Liverpool at 5 a.m. today and aim to reach the end of the canal in Leeds by 5 a.m. tomorrow.

Gym instructors John Bannister and Andy Pickard were friends and colleagues of Tom and felt they wanted to do their bit to support his foundation.

John said: “Almost everyone doing the ride knew Tom, through work or the gym. We wanted to do something to support his charity and came up with the idea of the bike ride.

“We are going to cycle from Liverpool to Leeds within 24 hours – hopefully!”

Andy added: “It will be a challenge – especially with so many of us doing it. We will all start together, ride together and finish together. So we will be up against the clock. But we are all determined to do it!”

John, Andy, fellow colleagues Adam Blakely and Isobel Eccles, gym members Helen Kalan, Chris Hayhurst, David Brown and Wendy Brown and Tom’s uncle, Steve Petty, have put in a lot of training for the mammoth task.

2br presenter Christopher Dean is also taking part, along with Great British Racing Team member Paul Oldham. He works at HOPE Technology, Barnoldswick, who are supporting the cyclists and providing equipment.

Tom’s uncle, Steve Petty, added: “It’s really touching these people want to do something so challenging to raise awareness of Tom’s foundation.

“I would like to thank John and Andy for organising this event. I can’t believe I’ve agreed to take part. It really is going to test me – but I feel I should do my bit and I’m determined not to let the team down!”

Although the main reason behind the event is to raise awareness of the charity, there are sponsorship forms at Pendle Leisure Centre in Colne, if anyone wants to make a donation.

The Sports Foundation was established in memory of Tom Petty who was killed in a car crash in July 2009.

It was launched last year by Tom’s family who wanted to do something worthwhile to keep his memory alive – and they felt it only fitting it was something to benefit Pendle’s sporting youngsters.

The money raised will be used to help groups or individuals with sporting needs, as well as offer financial backing for talented, up-and-coming Pendle athletes on their road to success.