'Fellaton' cyclists saddle up for epic £25k charity challenge

The Fellaton, a group of Norfolk men who are cycling from Land's End to John O'Groats in nine days a

The Norfolk Fellaton team is cycling from Land's End to John O'Groats for charity. From left, Justin Morfoot, Nick Gowing, Ed Wharton, Ed Masters and Richard Hirst - Credit: Danielle Booden

A team of friends from Norfolk's countryside community is gearing up for a "once-in-a-lifetime" challenge - cycling the length of the country for charities.

The six-man “Fellaton" sets off from Cornwall on Saturday, aiming to ride the gruelling 940 miles from Land’s End to John O’Groats at the northern tip of Scotland in just nine days.

The team includes farmers Nick Gowing from Mulbarton, Richard Hirst from Ormesby and Ed Wharton from Stokesby, along with land drainage specialist Justin Morfoot and barn developer Ed Masters, both from Fakenham.

It is completed by Mr Morfoot's half-brother Mike Bartlett, who was raised in Norfolk but now lives in Dorset, and support van driver Tobin Lambert, a former soldier from Halesworth who now works in woodland management.

Mike Bartlett

Mike Bartlett, originally from Norfolk but now living in Dorset, is the sixth member of the Norfolk Fellaton team - Credit: Ed Masters

Some of the team mates have known each other for more than 30 years, and some are riding in memory of lost loved ones, raising cash for causes close to their hearts.

They have already generated £23,000 towards their initial target of £25,000, to be split between five charities working in Norfolk and throughout the UK - farming mental health charity YANA (You Are Not Alone), East Anglian Children's Hospice (EACH), the Motor Neurone Disease Association, Muscular Dystrophy UK and the Royal Marsden Cancer Charity.

Mr Hirst, whose family runs a mixed farm, shop and fun park near Great Yarmouth, said he wanted to challenge himself in a personal milestone year.

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"I am going to turn 60 this year, so it is a personal challenge for me to see if I can do it," he said. "I have never been a serious biker, but it is something I always wanted to do.

"It will be fun to see the whole country from one end to the other with a great bunch of people."

Mr Morfoot, 45, a director of Shipdham-based land drainage firm William Morfoot, is supporting the Royal Marsden charity after losing his cousin George Rudd to cancer at the age of 47 in February. 

He has previously taken part in triathlons and marathons but a hip replacement last February has curtailed his running - so he has enjoyed refocusing his training on cycling.

"After being locked down for 18 months the opportunity to get out with six other lads for 10 days seemed very appealing," he said. 

"Living in Norfolk we don't get very many hills to practice on. People keep asking: why are these guys going up and down the same hill five times a day?"

Mr Gowing, who farms at Kenningham Hall in Mulbarton, turns 51 on the day the tight-knit team departs from Land's End.

"I have known Mike and Ed since school," he said. "A lot of us are season ticket holders at Carrow Road, so that is another common denominator - and it explains the green and yellow team shirts."

The Norfolk Fellaton team is cycling from Land's End to John O'Groats for charity

The Norfolk Fellaton team, from left, Justin Morfoot, Ed Wharton, Richard Hirst, Nick Gowing, Ed Masters and support vehicle driver Tobin Lambert - Credit: Danielle Booden

Mr Gowing said he was keen to raise money Muscular Dystrophy UK, as his father had died from the disease.

Mr Wharton, who farms at Stokesby growing arable crops, blackcurrants, is riding in memory of his mother Pauline, a former EACH director.

He said he enjoyed cycling and has also previously competed in triathlons and a marathon.

"I have always liked challenges and Land's End to John O'Groats is just one of those things you have to tick off," he said. 

Mr Masters said the idea emerged three years ago for the friends "to take up a once-in-a-lifetime challenge before it all goes to pot".

He said the plans were delayed by the lockdown but revived at the end of last year - since when the team has covered 1,100 miles and climbed 44,000ft of elevation during their training rides.

By the end of their south-to-north UK journey, he said the wheels of each bicycle will have done 1,387,872 revolutions.

Charity cyclists Justin Morfoot, Ed Wharton, Richard Hirst, Nick Gowing, Ed Masters and Tobin Lambert

The Norfolk Fellaton team, from left, Justin Morfoot, Ed Wharton, Richard Hirst, Nick Gowing, Ed Masters and support vehicle driver Tobin Lambert - Credit: Danielle Booden