Firefighters have completed a cycle challenge to raise money for a charity aid operation.

Retained officers from Hyndburn swapped their engines for endurance as they travelled around stations across East Lancashire in aid of Operation Florian.

The charity provides aid, support and training to fellow firefighters in eastern Europe and will see two of the retained crew from Hyndburn transporting a van full of firefighting equipment to Macedonia next week.

Crew mates undertook the 47-mile five-hour round trip from Hyndburn on Sunday, May 1, taking in stations at Darwen, Blackburn, Longridge, Clitheroe and Great Harwood.

The nine-strong team included Mark Abbott, Garry Drinkwater, Chris Archer, Chris West, Mik Hinett, Shaun Greenhalgh, Kris Richardson, Lawrence Buckle and Tember Walsh with help from Philip Braithwaite in a support vehicle.

Mark, who has been a retained firefighter at Hyndburn and Great Harwood for eight years, said it went ‘really well’.

He said: “It was a bit grim at first but we got very lucky as it was forecast for heavy rain and we got light rain for most of it.

“At Longridge everybody got wet and cold and it was a bit miserable but from there to Clitheroe and Hyndburn it brightened up and was a good morale booster towards the end.

“We had a couple of brews made for us and stopped at Longridge station for our lunch.

“A few of us ride a bit. I do more mountain biking than road biking.

“A couple of them went out for an hour’s practice the week before so a few of us suffered more than others.”

Mark, 30, from Accrington, said they have now exceeded their fundraising target but hope to see more money come in.

International charity Operation Florian provides engines, equipment and training to the world’s poorest regions who lose millions of lives every year to fires and disasters.

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He said: “If you put the Gift Aid on top we have more than £500 now.

“We have got two lads who are driving a van full of equipment to Macedonia on May 8 and another guy who is going out the week after to do some training with them. Our techniques are a lot more advanced and we are passing on our knowledge.”