The best friends of a cyclist who was killed when he was knocked from his bike in a road tragedy have vowed to continue his fund-raising legacy.
Les Turnbull was training for a coast-to-coast bike ride, from Whitehaven to Roker next month, when he died in January.
The 45-year-old grandfather was hit by a Go North East bus in Barmston Way, at the junction to the A1231, in Washington on January 15.
Now a team of 16 of his friends, plus a driver, are preparing to complete the ride in his name.
They will raise funds for the Children’s Heart Unit Fund (Chuf) at the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle, which has cared for Mr Turnbull’s nephew Sam Turnbull, 16, since he was born with a heart condition.
Ray Hickman, 42, a window fitter from Donwell, said: “He wanted to do this and that’s why we’re doing it, for him.
If he could help you, he would. He was kindhearted and funny.Ann Leonard, Les Turnbull’s partner
“He was the life and soul of the party and was always up for a laugh.
“Even if you met him once, you were a friend and he would give you his last.”
Les, from Sulgrave, Washington, was on a fitness regime after suffering a health scare with chest pains as he carried grandson Logan, four.
The manager at AWC glassware firm, in Swan Industrial Estate, had already done the C2C with friends four years ago and completed challenges including a skydive and the Great North Bike Ride for Chuf.
Anthony Kelly, 45, a self-employed builder, is also among those who will join the 146-mile challenge over three days from July 3.
He added: “This is what he wanted to do this year and he would be proud to know we were doing it.”
The group will celebrate the end of the ride at a party at Les’s local, the Top Club, in Manor Road, where the band Ska Boom will play.
Anyone who wants to sponsor the group can donate via www.justgiving.com/chuf/.
The loved ones of huge Sunderland fan Les have also spoken for the first time after losing the “kindhearted” grandfather as they add their support to the cycle crew.
His partner Ann Leonard, 51, and Les had daughter Jodie, 27, when they were first together and rekindled their relationship three years ago.
Ann, who is also mum to James, 31, Nicole, 24, and Michael, 22, said: “If he could help you, he would.
“He was kindhearted and funny.
“He was always doing things for Chuf because of his nephew Sam, who had a major heart operation when he was born and another op last year.”
Jodie, who is mum to Logan, four, added: “He was hilarious, loved his kids and family, and he would do anything for you at the drop of a hat.
“He loved his mates.
Les was also dad to Martin, 22, a brother to Jason, 44, Sam’s father, and also left mum Norma Carr, 73, and grandfather to Gracie, nine, Harley, five, Kylin, three, Cameron, two, and Imogen, eight months.
At Sunderland Magistrates’ Court earlier this month, bus driver John Yates, 57, appeared to face a charge of causing Les’s death by careless or inconsiderate driving.
No plea was entered by Yates, of Davison Terrace, Sacriston, County Durham.
He was granted unconditional bail until his next appearance at the court on Friday, July 17.