Fourteen soldiers were given a heroes’ welcome in the north-east after completing a mammoth charity challenge.
The pals cycled 617 miles from North Wales and, having set out on Monday, crossed the finish line in Ellon to a rousing reception on Saturday.
As if cycling 125 miles a day was not hard enough, the group also did the Three Peaks Challenge along the way – climbing the tallest peaks in Wales, England and Scotland.
The challenge was the idea of Daniel Stewart, 27, of Aberdeen, who wanted to raise money for Friends of Anchor, which helped him when he was diagnosed with testicular cancer a year ago.
Among the others who took part was Steve Scott, 24, of Peterhead. The other 12 soldiers were from various parts of the UK.
Daniel said supporters and sponsors have so far raised more than £13,000 – and counting.
Funds raised will be split between Friends of Anchor and the Royal Marines charity.
“We’ve had more than £10,000 donated online and £3,000 from sponsors. We haven’t collected money from the bucket collections along the way, so that will add to it. I’d like to thank everyone for their support,” said Daniel.
He added: “It was tough going at times. We only had one day of sun, and the rain made it really hard on some days.
“On the first day, we had 10 punctures between us. One guy had three alone.
“Climbing the peaks after cycling was particularly hard and my knees were destroyed by the end of the third one – and we still had to cycle the rest of the way.
“But crossing the finish line was an amazing feeling – particularly as there were so many people there. We were all blown away.
“Particularly amazing was that some of the families of the lads from England had come up to Ellon just to see them at the end.”
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Daniel, who has raised thousands of pounds for charity previously, celebrated his achievement with a well-earned pizza and a pint.
He also thanked Fred Mutch, 59, of Bridge of Don, for being the team’s chef during the challenge. “He did the most important job,” said Daniel.
Friends of Anchor fundraising and marketing assistant Naomi Forrest said: “This is a group of guys who have shown remarkable strength and determination to take on such a difficult challenge.”