TWENTY cyclists, including stars from a BBC hit comedy, have completed an eye-watering challenge which saw them cycle across three countries to raise money for a football charity.

Riders began the extraordinary challenge in Kent at just before 6am on Saturday and, 85 miles later, attended The Last Post ceremony at Menin Gate, Ypres, Belgium.

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Paul Cooper, who readers will recognised from hit television comedy This Country, explained why he and his son Charlie had decided to take part.

“We’re raising money to bring 20 kids from the slums in Chennai, India, to the Global Peace Games hosted in Belgium each year,” he explained.

“It’s an incredible opportunity to offer these young boys and girls a chance to escape from the slums where they live, a place where girls are forbidden from playing sport.”

The money raised from the ride will enable the children to join other youngsters from all over the world to learn, play, and most importantly to inspire a new generation to work together.

“The kids just ‘get it’,” said Paul, who is a director of the Nation Children’s Football Alliance, the charity which organises the peace games.

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“Last year we had refugee children in tears visiting the war graves in Belgium.

“They were so respectful, asking questions, explaining what had happened to them - it was inspiring.”

During the week long peace camp children of both genders, and all abilities, play music, sing songs, attend talks and workshops and visit war museums and cemeteries to learn about war.

“But what underpins it all is football,” Paul explained.

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“It’s a common language and one that famously brought together soldiers for The Christmas Truce, a famous football match which stopped WW1 for one day in 1914. If they could do that then, why can’t we strive to use football for peace now?”

So far the cyclists have raised half the money needed to bring the young Indian children to the games, and are appealing for the last few donations to achieve their goal.