A STRETFORD Mall employee is taking part in a 300-mile cycle ride in memory of a close friend who died from heart disease aged 41.

Steve Webster, 50, who is a Sky sales advisor, will pound the pedals from London to Newcastle in just 24 hours in aid of the British Heart Foundation (BHF).

He will be driven on by remembering his good friend Stephen Wilkinson who died in his sleep from a heart condition he didn’t even know he had.

Steve said: “I’d known Stephen for about six years after meeting him through some friends of my partner Sue.

"He lived in Cadishead and was a really nice guy. We used to meet up quite often at social gatherings.

“Then, all of a sudden, I heard that he had died in his sleep from a cardiac arrest, leaving a partner called Patsy and a young son, Thomas."

Steve, who lives at Woolston near Warrington, began supporting the BHF from then on, his first fundraising venture being a 50-mile Manchester to Blackpool bike ride just a few months after his friend’s death, which raised £400.

But for his latest cycling challenge, on August 30 and 31, he will definitely be stepping up a few gears.

He said: “It’s the London to Newcastle 24, which means you have to complete the 310 miles between the two cities in just 24 hours.

“I’ll be one of about 300 riders taking part and after starting out from Clissold Park, near Finsbury Park, in London at 10am on the Saturday we’ll head due north through Cambridgeshire and Lincolnshire.

"We’ll then hit the city of Lincoln and later cross the Humber into York."

He added: “I’m really looking forward to the challenge, which I know I can do.

"And it’s the thought of what happened to my mate Stephen that will be driving me on as I tackle those 300-odd miles.”

You can support Steve by visiting his fundraising page at https justgiving.com/Steven-Webster2/.