A GROUP of friends are taking on a two-day cycling challenge this weekend in memory of a soldier killed in Afghanistan last year.
Lance Corporal Kyle Marshall was killed on Valentine’s Day in Helmand Province at the age of 23. His death caused by an improvised explosive device.
Now 28 of his friends are cycling from Whitehaven to Tynemouth in his memory, and they are hoping to raise thousands of pounds for charities in his memory.
Ride organiser Sean Lane was originally Kyle’s boss at Ceramic Tile Distributors in Shields Road, Newcastle, but the pair soon clicked and became firm friends despite a nine-year age gap.
Sean said: “He came to work for me as a trainee manager at the age of 17 and we just clicked straight away and became instant friends.
“He had been in the Army once but left, and that’s why he came to work for us, but I always knew he wanted to go back in.
“It was after about two and a half years that he came to me and said ‘I think I should go back’ and he decided to back into the Army.”
It was a worrying time for friends and family as Kyle had already been to Afghanistan once before, and on February 14 last year, Sean received a call to say that one of his best friends had been killed.
His group of friends wanted to do something in his memory and came up with the idea for the cycle ride, and what started as a handful of people has turned into a group of 28 cyclists taking part.
Sean added: “Everyone has just got on board and wants to be part of it.
“We know that we unfortunately can’t do anything for Kyle now, but we can do something for the people who are still with us and help them.
“No one is taking it lightly. Everyone has been training really hard. There’ll be people who will find it more than a slog than others, but they know why they are doing it, and that will get them through.”
The group will set off from Whitehaven on Sunday morning and plan to arrive in Tynemouth on Monday.
Talking about the friend he lost, Sean said Wallsend-born Kyle knew no fear.
“He wasn’t scared of anything. He was older than his years, and when he was introduced to my friends no one batted an eyelid that he was so much younger than us,” he said.
“He was one of my closest friends.”
The two charities benefiting from the fundraising are Help for Heroes and Barnado’s. To make a donation visit either of the sites www.fundraiseforbarnardos.org.uk/SeanLaneC2C or www.bmycharity.com/SeanLane for Help for Heroes.