IT was pure statistics that prompted an Oxfordshire farmer and builder to get on their bikes and ride hundreds of miles for a charity they believe in.

Farmer Peter Deeley and building firm boss Richard Spencer headed off to the Continent on Sunday to cycle 350 miles around France’s battlefields.

The pair will be joined by 270 other cyclists, including injured servicemen, for the gruelling challenge to raise money for the military charity Help for Heroes.

Mr Deeley, 43, who runs Manor Farm, in Launton, near Bicester, said: “You hear about the soldiers who have been killed, but for every one killed 20 suffer life changing injuries.

“My brother-in-law, Lieutenant Colonel Bill Wright, of 2 Rifles, has just got back from Afghanistan. The battalion lost one man and they have got a dozen in hospital or at Headley Court rehabilitaton centre.”

So far the group, who set off on the five-day ride yesterday, have raised more than £5,000.

The first day’s ride was 50 miles and every day afterwards is up to 70 miles, around First and Second World War battle sites in the Somme, before they arrive at the finish line in Dunkirk on May 25.

To sponsor the friends, click on the link.