TWO HAMPSHIRE friends are taking to the saddle for an epic cycling challenge in memory of their loved ones.

Eastleigh-born Michael Lashmar and Brendon Hunter are preparing for the cycle of their lives from Land’s End to John o’Groats.

The duo have set themselves the mission to honour the courage of Michael’s dad, who lost his long battle with multiple sclerosis and a mutual friend who died from cystic fibrosis.

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Utility worker Brendon, 34, and 37- year-old Michael, who met aged 16 at Wyvern College, came up with the idea after spotting a signpost with the distances between the two iconic destinations and decided they were up for the challenge.

Two years ago Michael’s father Stephen, below, a former lieutenant in the Royal Navy, died from MS, just missing out on his son’s wedding day.

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And just last year, their friend Lisa Smith, below, from Ashurst, lost her fight against cystic fibrosis, aged 29.

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So, with the memory of their loved ones spurring them on, the pair will set off on July 26 with the aim of raising £25,000 for the Cystic Fibrosis Trust and the Multiple Sclerosis Society.

New Forest-based Michael, who is an accountant when he’s not pedalling for charity, said: “This is a huge challenge for us but we have been inspired by the courage these amazing real life heroes had.

“My dad just missed my wedding, and Lisa was so strong throughout her fight with cystic fibrosis, their strength has kept us going through all the gruelling training.

“The charities are such good causes. There is no cure for e i t h e r illness r i g h t now but they are doing some great research so every pound counts.”