AN intrepid team of firefighters and volunteers who cycled 1,600 miles from Oldham to Gibraltar have handed over nearly £40,000 to four charities.

The group “Blazing Saddles” completed the journey in the summer, calling in at Le Havre, in just 14 days.

They stopped off to pay their respects to the Oldham Pals soldiers ahead of the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War, as well as the centenary of the Fire Brigades Untion.

The soldiers were laid to rest in the French port during the conflict.

The effort was orchestrated by Oldham fire station’s red watch manager Phil Courtnell and colleagues Chris Dean and Lee Cropper.

Cheques were split equally to the group’s four chosen charities – MIND, the Fire Fighters Charity, SANDS, and Cyclists Fighting Cancer.

Blazing Saddles has now raised a total of nearly £100,000 in a series of four similar events during the last four years.

Phil said: “We would like to say a big thank-you to everyone who donated to our funds and helped us surpass our target figure.”

The total amount raised in the Gibraltar trip was £38,706.

The Blazing Saddles team included (from Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service), Phil Courtnell, aged 55, Chris Dean, 48, Mark Canning, 49, Colin Davies, 48 (retired), Tony Cuchera, 44, Ian Hall, 47, Chris Hanson, 44, Julian Hodges, 46, Greg Punchon, 42. Support riders (non GMFRS) were Mark Smith, 48, Chris Derbyshire, 47, Shaun Jagger, 54, Julian Hodges 46. In the support vehicle was Lee Cropper, 45, GMFRS, Mike Smith, 29, Phil Garbet, 36, Nick Berry, 42.