STUDENTS used the power of youth to peddle an important message and raise much needed funds for charity.

Twenty one pupils from Emmanuel College, Gateshead, spent 24 hours on the Quayside riding 1,898 miles, the equivalent of cycling to John o’Groats to Land’s End and back plus a further 150 miles.

Years 10 and 12 boys and girls took turns to pedal four static bikes during the day and night after setting up camp at Baltic Square.

The event, part of the college’s annual community activities and outreach week, was to raise money for and draw attention to the work of North East charity Action Foundation.

Founded in 2006 by Julian Prior, the charity works tirelessly to help destitute refugees and asylum seekers. It operates a number of homes and also runs English language courses and befriending projects.

Julian said: “This is the first time we have done any work with Emmanuel College and we are delighted with their offer of help. It has been fantastic working together this week.

“They have been involved in a number of our activities, but the cycle challenge was the most stretching. It’s great that they are keen to raise money, but also awareness of the issue of homelessness here on Tyneside.”

Assistant vice principal Mark Hall added: “Good education is so much more than good grades. It’s great for the students and the college to be able to take our charity work into the centre of the city and also help promote the work of such a worthy cause.

“We called it A Rough Ride as that captures the challenge of pedalling for 24 hours and sleeping out in a marquee, but also the plight many people have to face on a daily basis.”

Even before the event started the students had raised more than £500 through a charitable website set up for the occasion.

Student Matthew Cornish was only too pleased to volunteer. He said: “It’s a bit of a challenge but really good and well worth the effort for a worthy cause.”

The top cyclists proved to be Kyle Watts, who rode 258km, and Oliver Lofthouse, who rode 257.97km.

Oliver, 14, of Burnopfield, said: “We went a lot further than we expected. I managed to do more because I did some extra stints on the bike during the day. It was a really good experience.”

Earlier in the week the cycling students had been involved with the official launch of Silverline with Esther Rantzen, serving tea and cakes they had made to elderly people.

Other students have helped rangers fix foothpaths in Watergate Forest Park and entertained residents at Beechwood Care Home, while another group baked food to sell and raise money for the Gateshead Food Bank.

Other groups have been on educational trips to Italy, Netherlands, France, Scotland and the Yorkshire Dales.

To support the students and Action Foundation with sponsorship, visit