THREE train drivers who have all experienced cancer tragedies are taking on a rowing challenge today to raise funds for research.

The Southern Rail trio, all based at Brighton Station, will use a rowing machine to cover the equivalent of the distance between London and Paris, 214 miles, in 24 hours.

Richard Quinn, Richard Brown and Gary Harman were prompted into action after losing a colleague to cancer.

Driver competency manager Richard Quinn has also had five family members diagnosed with cancer in the last year.

And Richard Brown lost his best friend to the illness two years ago.

Richard Quinn, 42, said: “My father, father-in-law and three uncles have been diagnosed and my colleague passed away.

“Everyone suffers from cancer, so we are choosing to suffer for just 24 hours as a tribute to them. People with cancer don’t have that choice.”

Mr Quinn’s relatives are currently undergoing treatment.

He said: “They are all struggling through it at the moment.

“My father has now had his operations and is taking each day as it comes.”

The men are rowing to raise money for Cancer Research UK and Mr Quinn praised the organisation.

He said: “Some of my family’s treatments were discovered by the work of Cancer Research UK.

“To show my gratitude and help support further research programmes, I’m taking on this epic challenge to raise awareness and much-needed funds.”

For the event, the group will row in relay to reach their 214-mile target.

Richard Brown said: “I’m doing this for a great cause and a tough challenge.

“I’m personally motivated because I lost my best friend Elena to non-Hodgkin lymphoma two years ago after a long battle.

“It made me painfully aware of just how cruel and non-discriminating cancer could be.”

There are 185 Southern Rail drivers based at Brighton, and a spokesman for the company said several of them were undergoing treatment for cancer.

The challenge will take place in Brighton Station on two rowing machines, starting at noon.

Mr Quinn said: “Originally we were looking at doing a run but we wanted to do something a little bit different and visible.

“It’s going to be a real challenge and bitterly cold. Everyone we have spoken to thinks we are mad, but they are also really proud.”