Marks & Spencer is gearing up for its biggest fundraising to date*, with over 1,400 M&S employees taking part in its BIKE 24 charity cycle challenge on Friday 21 June.
With the aim of raising £1.5million for five leading charities, M&S employees from its stores and offices across Great Britain, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland are backing the cyclists as they prepare for M&S's unique fundraising event this summer.
BIKE 24 is a 'Le Mans' inspired 24 hour endurance event taking place at Rockingham Motor Racing Circuit in Corby. Employees will compete in teams of four; the relay will see a cyclist from each team on the track from 5pm on Friday 21 until 5pm on Saturday 22 June. 23 experienced solo riders are also competing individually and will stay in the saddle for the whole duration of the challenge.
Each lap of the circuit will help M&S to raise crucial funds in support of its five charity partners: Breakthrough Breast Cancer, Action Medical Research, the Marie Keating Foundation, Action Cancer and Prostate Cancer UK.
Sacha Berendji, Director of Retail at M&S said: "Following the success of British cycling last summer, the nation has really taken the sport to its hearts. With more than double the number of participants this year, we're delighted that our BIKE 24 charity cycle challenge will be bigger and better than ever. That's why we've set an ambitious target to raise £1.5million for these five truly worthwhile charities."
Ahead of the BIKE 24 event, a team of 60 M&S employees and suppliers will take part in M&S's 'Arc to Arch' charity challenge. Starting on 6 June, the three day endurance challenge will see the team cycle 282 miles from M&S's Champs Elysées store and L'Arc de Triomphe in Paris to the retailer's flagship store at Marble Arch in London.
Both cycling events are part of the Your M&S Charity Challenge which will see a host of fundraising activities taking place at all M&S' UK and Irish stores from 1 June to the end of August. Customers can donate online via the Virgin Money Giving page, which contains further information on fundraising taking place across the UK as well as links to sponsor cyclists.
Gaby Roslin, patron of Breakthrough Breast Cancer, commented: "Marks & Spencer has been a wonderful supporter of Breakthrough Breast Cancer for over 12 years and this challenge is just another example of their fantastic fundraising work. As a long-term supporter of Breakthrough myself, I am so happy to be supporting the BIKE 24 challenge and all the fantastic M&S employees that are taking part. Their fundraising will help to make a big difference to the lives of the 50,000 women and 400 men who are diagnosed with breast cancer every year in the UK."
Ronan Keating, co-founder of the Marie Keating Foundation, said: "On behalf of my family and the team at the Marie Keating Foundation I want to thank Marks & Spencer for supporting us again this year with the BIKE 24 challenge. Through your efforts and success the Foundation can continue to provide its cancer awareness campaigns and support cancer patients in need financially. Marks & Spencer and its people has, since the beginning been a true partner to us in our fight against cancer, and for this support we truly are so grateful".
Neil Fox, ambassador of Prostate Cancer UK, said: "Having lost my dad to prostate cancer, I have seen first-hand how this disease can affect the whole family, which is why Prostate Cancer UK's helpline is so important in supporting people with all the information and advice they might need. Over the years, M&S has been an incredible support, raising over £1.8 million, which has been invested into this nurse-led helpline.
"Bike24 is yet another innovation by the organisation to continue this legacy of support. It's is a fantastic opportunity for M&S employees to take on a real challenge and raise funds for Prostate Cancer UK to support men with the disease, provide vital information and find answers by funding research into causes and treatments."
Zoe Salmon, ambassador of Action Cancer, said: "Good luck to all of the cyslists with your 24 hour challenge and to M&S stores with your fundraising efforts. When the going gets tough remember that your support is helping someone in Northern Ireland to receive counselling and complementary therapy support for cancer; enabling men to receive health checks and provide breast screening for women. A huge thank you from me!"
*BIKE 24 followsM&S's success last year in raising funds for Breakthrough Breast Cancer, the Marie Keating Foundation and Action Cancer as part of the Bike 400 Cycle Challenge. 660 M&S employees covered a total of 60,000 miles in a 24-hour cycle challenge at the Prodrive Race Track in Kenilworth.