Two men who first struck up a friendship as teenagers are reuniting over half a century later to take part in a cycle event to raise cash for a dog charity.

John Pankhurst, 65, of Chingford will be joined by his friend Paul Welsh, 69, at the Canine Partners’ Pedal for Paws cycle on Sunday October 1.

The pair will ride 52 miles, one for each year of their friendship, through the South Downs National Park in West Sussex and have already raised hundreds of pounds.

The event is sure to remind the former champion cyclists of the last journey they completed together, a cycle from Scotland to Kent many moons ago.

Mr Pankhurst decided to rise to the challenge after he and his partner Sandy Goodey signed up to become puppy parents.

The couple are currently in the process of training Zed, a black Labrador, for his future role as an assistance dog for a disabled person.

The father-of-three who is a retired architectural interior designer said: “I’m excited about the challenge of completing the ride but apprehensive as there are several large hills along the route and I’ve been told Essex doesn’t have hills, only slight undulations.

East London and West Essex Guardian Series:

“It’s particularly poignant because I’m taking part with Paul.

“It will bring back memories of when we used to go on cycling club runs together, weekend youth hostelling, training evenings and road, time trial and grass track racing.

“It’s also another great way that we can support Canine Partners.

“The challenge has got me back on a bike again and the training for it is supposed to be good for me but I could do with a few less punctures and idiot car, van and lorry drivers.”

The role as a puppy parent involves teaching the pup some of the basic skills he will need as a fully-qualified canine partner and introducing him to lots of new environment, people and animals so that nothing fazes him when he is a working dog.

The dogs are also trained how to get help for their owner in a case of emergency.

To contribute to John and Paul’s fundraising campaign click here

There is still time to sign-up to take part in the cycle. Advanced tickets cost £20 for adults and £10 for children under 16.

Cyclists are asked to raise at least £100 each for the charity.

For more information call Helen Watkinson on 01530 225939, email or click here