Crowds gathered on a glorious sunny day at West Bay to cheer on hundreds of determined cyclists as they crossed the finish line at a massive annual fundraiser.

The eighth annual Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance Coast to Coast (C2C) Cycle Challenge took place on Sunday, attracting 549 cyclists.

The 54-mile ride from Watchet Harbour, Somerset, to West Bay saw 524 cyclists take part whilst another 25 completed the shorter 11-mile route, which began at Drimpton and also ended at West Bay.

An electric atmosphere began building at West Bay as families, friends and colleagues began arriving in support of those taking part. They didn’t have to wait too long before the first male cyclist, Martin Mitchell, crossed the finish line at 1.40pm. The first female to arrive at West Bay was Ros Willicombe.

The youngest individual cyclist was Reuben Foster, who completed the 11-mile route, whilst 12-year-old Archie Causley was the youngest to complete the 54-mile route. And age was just a number for 81-years-old Lindsay Fortune, who was the oldest participant on the day.

Representatives from the air ambulance, which included staff and a members of the clinical team, joined in the event and cycled with their families and friends.

Of the many others who took part, there were former patients who had experienced the work of the air ambulance firsthand. Others cycled in memory of loved ones, as part of a team, or simply as a personal challenge to show their support for the lifesaving charity.

In July 2016, Chris Pinnell suffered a cardiac arrest while out cycling with his friend George. He has no recollection of the incident but has done all that he can since recovering to support the charity.

Chris said: “My brain blocked the events of what happened that day but apparently I collapsed, became unconscious and stopped breathing. It is clear that I owe my life to George, the NHS paramedics and of course the team at Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance; it was certainly the intervention of the professionals that ensured I got to hospital in time and in a stable condition, which was critical to my survival.” Chris’ wife, Caroline, cycled the full 54-mile route, whilst he took part in the 11-mile cycle with their two young sons Louie and Jake.

Bill Sivewright, of Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance, gave praise to everyone involved and said: “This year’s C2C was blessed with the best possible cycling weather; dry roads, clear sunny skies and not too warm. The buzz and energy around the start at Watchet certainly reflected that. Even after the first series of climbs, the enthusiasm was undimmed and was maintained right to the end. Speaking to those who took part, it was clear that everyone had their own special reason for taking part.

"I am incredibly proud of the staff and army of volunteers who did such a fantastic job of managing the event in such a warm and friendly manner throughout."

Last year, C2C raised more than £74,000. Prizes will be awarded to those who raise the most in sponsorship in the following categories: Adult, Under 16 and Team. These will be presented later in the year when all funds are received.

The closing date for sponsorship is August 1.