A COUPLE brought together by tragedy have embarked on an epic cycle ride in a joint bid to beat cancer sooner.

Sue Duncombe and Patrick McGuire set off on their 850-mile journey around 101 Cancer Research UK sites from the Wantage shop on Friday.

Over two weeks they plan to visit 98 shops and three research institutes funded by the charity between here and Manchester, going via Cambridge, Stratford and Birmingham.

They are hoping to complete their mammoth mission when they arrive at Headington's CRUK shop on August 17.

Speaking as they prepared to get going on Friday morning, the couple from Childrey, near Wantage, said they were ready to roll.

Mr McGuire, who celebrates his 63rd birthday on the ride, said: "We are both feeling nervous trepidation but a lot of hard work has already gone in to this and, with the support of everyone, we are ready for it."

The husband and wife met while volunteering for Cancer Research UK after both losing their partners to the disease.

Mrs Duncombe's first husband Philip died of prostate cancer on Christmas Day, 2009, aged 57, and Mr McGuire lost his wife Pam to bowel cancer in 2007.

Mrs Duncombe has already raised more than £60,000 for Cancer Research UK and was crowned 2017 Ambassador of the Year.

It was while volunteering in different parts of the country that the pair met and, after a whirlwind romance, were married in December.

They are hoping their 101 CRUK Shop Cycle will raise awareness for the importance of research and the 'pivotal role' which CRUK shops play in funding that work.

Mrs Duncombe, 59, said: "Not everyone can cycle 850 miles but everyone can recycle.

"We hope by doing this challenge we raise awareness of what everyone can do by supporting their local CRUK charity shop to beat cancer sooner."

Oxfordshire cyclists are now being urged to join the couple at the Cancer Research UK shop in Headington, at 12.45pm on August 17 to accompany them on their final mile to the Cancer Research UK Oxford Research Centre.

Find out more about the challenge at 101crukshopcycle.com or follow the challenge on Twitter by using #101CRUKShopCycle