A top eye surgeon and the boss at the UK’s largest orthodontic laboratory will be among dozens of cyclists to take part in a charity ride in aid of Foundation of Light.

Maged Habib, a consultant at Sunderland Eye Infirmary, met Sean Thompson, Managing Director at Ashford Orthodontics, when he performed surgery on him.

Sean had already completed several of the Foundation’s cycle challenges, riding a tandem with his wife Allison. Sean persuaded Maged to take part in last year’s ride from Poland to Prague, and Maged enjoyed the experience so much he is one of 30 riders taking part in this year’s challenge.

Sunderland AFC legend Julio Arca, retired dentist Michael Oliver and former Sunderland Echo Editor Rob Lawson are among the other riders.

Sean Thompson, Managing Director at Ashford Orthodontics, said: “This year’s ride is far more of a challenge than last year’s event, so we’ve been training hard. It’s 250 miles from Dubrovnik to Split and we’ll be climbing more than 22,500ft – so it’s obviously all uphill!

“We’ve done a lot of our training in and around Sunderland and Seaham, and it’s hard to find hills high enough – so we’ve also had to go further afield.”

The cyclists set off on Wednesday, June 13, flying from Newcastle to Dubrovnik, and then start the gruelling journey the following day. They arrive into the Croatian coastal town of Split four days later.

“We’ve been told we’ll be passing through some beautiful countryside, but I’m not sure whether we’ll be in a fit state to enjoy it,” said Maged, a consultant Ophthalmologist and Vitreo-retinal Surgeon at the Eye Infirmary since 2011. He has special clinical interest in medical and surgical retinal diseases, especially the management of diabetic eye disease and retinal vascular disorders.

Each cyclist is asked to raise £1,650 towards the cost of the ride, with all proceeds going toward the Foundation. The ride is supported by international building materials distributor Grafton Group plc and logistics specialists OSE European.

Over the past few years, the annual Foundation rides have raised hundreds of thousands of pounds to support North East communities. Previous rides have been from Dublin to Sunderland; Pisa to Venice; Brussels to Paris and from the French Atlantic coast to the Mediterranean.

Jemma Garrett, Events Manager at the Foundation, said: “This year’s ride promises to be our most spectacular yet, with some breath-taking scenery and beautiful countryside.

“The annual rides are a unique experience, very enjoyable though hard work. Friendships are formed, goals accomplished and great memories made – and of course, money raised to help us continue the important work we do in the region,” she added.

Ashford Orthodontics won both the Medium Business of the Year and Overall Business of the Year at last year’s Echo’s Portfolio Awards, and has since expanded further, now employing more than 50 people at its Southwick premises.

Clinicians across the UK, The Netherlands, Belgium, Norway, Sweden, Australia and New Zealand now use Ashford Orthodontics’ digital capabilities to place orders for the company’s leading orthodontic appliances.

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