A RETIRED police officer fulfilled his promise and completed a gruelling 500-mile cross-country bike ride for charity.

Geoffrey Lee, 76, of Main Road, St Lawrence, set off on his final charity ride from Newcastle to Essex in a bid to raise a grand total of £42,000 for London’s Great Ormond Street Hospital.

The marathon journey saw him smash his target by more than £500.

Geoffrey started his ride in Newcastle before crossing into Durham; Cumbria; Weardale, Swaledale and Ribblesdale in Yorkshire; Derbyshire; Nottinghamshire; Leicestershire; Rutland; Lincolnshire; Norfolk; Cambridgeshire; Suffolk; and finally back to his home in Essex.

He completed the ride in eight days, circling around Norfolk to boost the distance to 500 miles.

Geoffrey has thanked his friends and family for their support during the ride.

He said: “This was a very hard undertaking at my age.

“I sometimes wonder how I managed to finish it.

“The weather was very hot most of the time and I never saw rain during the trip. This, for me, was a real test of endurance as, from the start, there were serious hills to contend with and long days in the saddle.

“Most days I was riding from 9am until 8pm.

“There were times when I could have gone to sleep at the roadside but as my accommodation was booked all the way back home, I had to keep moving.

“I did get lost in Sherwood Forest for more than an hour. I had no idea where I was.

“But I saw some wonderful countryside – from the isolation of the Yorkshire Moors to the hills of the Derbyshire Peak District, including Snake Pass – a hill I will never forget.

“I think the beauty of the countryside helped me to complete the ride, but it was nice to see all the family waiting for me at the finish.”

Geoffrey averaged 60 miles a day and only got a puncture just six miles from his home.

He has been working towards his fundraising target for the past three years.

He added: “Most people have a connection to Great Ormond Street. In all the years of raising money for charities, I think it is one of the easiest because of how many people it affects.”