STAFF from the Melksham accountancy and financial planning firm Old Mill have raised nearly £20,000 after completing a 207-mile this week in memory of a colleague who died last August.

The team from accountants Old Mill rode from St Malo in France to Yeovil in memory of their friend and colleague Nick Baker, from the firm’s Exeter offfice, who died aged 43 after a short illness.

After arriving back in Somerset on Wednesday, they have been counting the cash and found they have raised just shy of £20,000 for their regular nominated local charity School in a Bag and Marie Curie, chosen by Nick’s parents.

David Rice, who organised the event and was a friend of Nick’s, said: “Our thirds cycle challenge was a superb experience; the French countryside was a truly an excellent place to pay tribute to our dear colleague Nick Baker. My colleague Duncan Parkes even rode Nick’s bike.

“The comradery amongst the riders and the organisation of the ride provided by School in a Bag made the ride very memorable, and especially poignant to highlight the importance of getting the most out of life.

“Old Mill and the participants of the cycle ride have been blown away by the support and donations received. We always felt confident of raising £10,000 but to be on the cusp of raising £20,000 we are truly grateful and appreciative.”

The four-day cycle challenge started on Sunday in St Malo and involved Nick’s colleagues from the firm’s offices in Melksham, Wells, Yeovil and Exeter. It finished at the Old Mill offices in Yeovil.

David added: “Nick was a true action man. He was a marathon runner, had completed John o’ Groats to Land’s End cycle challenges, and also took part in the two previous Old Mill cycle rides to raise money for School in a Bag.

“He was a much-loved character and a great support during both rides, offering support, knowledge and advice whilst on two wheels and well into the evenings on both challenges.

“Losing him was a real shock, and it has been really difficult for everyone who worked with him. We all felt we wanted to do something in his memory and a ride together just seemed like the perfect idea.”

School in a Bag had two riders taking part in the challenge. The charity sends rucksacks filled with stationery, learning resources and eating utensils to poor, orphan, disadvantaged and disaster-affected children around the world, while Marie Curie provides care and support to people and their families with a terminal illness.

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