THE future of an annual fundraiser hung in the balance as the coronavirus crisis threatened to derail it.

But a team of resourceful cyclists from Patcham High School in Brighton quickly found a way around the problem.

For almost two decades, the school has entered a crew on two wheels into the 54-mile London to Brighton Bike Ride, raising thousands for the British Heart Foundation.

But this year, with the event due to go ahead on June 21, organisers were left with no choice but to cancel the cycle as the UK remained in a pandemic-enforced lockdown.

As all looked lost, the quick-thinking Patcham team hatched a plan to take part in the race anyway...without having to leave the county.

The team of 16 completed individual cycle rides by themselves, each racking up the miles.

PE teacher Matt Lindner, who has taken part in the event for the last 12 years, said: “The London to Brighton Bike Ride is one of our staff’s favourite ventures of the year.

“The early 4am start and gruelling 54-mile ride is overlooked because of the brilliant camaraderie of the team and the fact we are raising vital finds for the British Heart Foundation.

“However this year the ride was harder. Our staff had no pre-planned route so we had to sort out own our journeys. I went to Ferring and back a few times to get to 54 miles.

“But most staff felt, because of social distancing, it was quite a lonely affair, obviously dependent on where and when we rode during the day.”

In the days surrounding the initial planned event, the team climbed into the saddle and set off, covering more than 500 miles between them.

And Matt said, despite the new challenges riders faced, the support for the new-look cycling challenge had been “fantastic”.

A Just Giving page called PHS Cycle Team set up to collect money for the British Heart Foundation has already raised more than £500 of the crew’s £540 target, with 44 people having donated.

Matt said: “The British Heart Foundation has helped halve the number of people dying from heart and circulatory disease in the UK but sadly every day hundreds of people lose their lives. It’s only thanks to support from people like us that it can create new treatments and discover new cures.”