A HUSBAND and wife team are tackling the 240-mile Ride to the Somme cycle challenge to raise money for SSAFA - the Armed Forces charity, formerly known as Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association.

Retired police officers Michael and Isobel Leather, from Coedybryn, Newcastle Emlyn will cover 80 miles a day over three days at the end of this month, though as Michael freely admits: “We’re not in the best of shape and it’s going to be tough.”

The couple are both caseworkers for SSAFA in Ceredigion, though Michael is retiring, while Isobel is also the divisional secretary for the organization.

The Ride to the Somme is an SSAFA-organised event that is partly to commemorate the bicycle companies that were employed during the First World War to carry and fetch communications to and from the front lines and the cycling soldiers who fought and fell along the Western front.

The event sets out from the Imperial War Museum at Chatham and encompasses many of the famous battle sites along its route. It starts on August 29 and will culminate at the Armistice Glade on September 1.

“I have promised myself I will lose some weight but it is going to be very hard,” said Michael, also an ex-paratrooper and Falklands veteran.

“We have been training 20 miles a time for three days a week. I will do it because I am stubborn. I might be a bit of a mess by the evening meal and have to go straight to bed!

“Isobel has not cycled for 30 years when she did the London to Brighton run.”

SSAFA provides welfare and support for those serving in the armed forces, veterans and armed forces families and supports the Army, RAF and Navy and Michael and Isobel are hoping to raise £1,500 each.

To make donations, go to Virgin Just Giving/The Ride to the Somme and look for Michael or Isobel Leather.