A YORK couple have returned from a two-week long 300 mile bike ride across Vietnam, raising money for a good cause.

Rachael Vardy and boyfriend Patrick Davison have collected more than £10,000 in sponsorship money, all of which will go towards helping injured soldiers, and they have thanked the generous friends, family and other supporters who helped them reach that total.

The eight day challenge, which began on Saturday, March 29, saw the couple cycle almost the entire length of Vietnam from Ho Chi Minh in the south to Hanoi in the north.

Cycling up to 70km a day in temperatures as high as 40C, Rachael said the journey was tough. Climbing the notorious Hai Van pass was extremely challenging, she added, but the couple were determined not to get off their bikes and walk at all in the trip.

They were part of a team with other British cyclists raising money for Help for Heroes and American fundraisers cycling for the US counterpart charity Operation Comfort. Among the team were injured soldiers and amputees from both the US and the UK.

Rachael said: "It was humbling to cycle with them, and that was the inspiration to keep going."

Student Rachael and Patrick, a lance corporal in the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers previously based at Topcliffe near Thirsk, set themselves a fundraising target of £7,200 but have smashed that by bringing in a total of £10,557.35.

They chose to support the charity because of the number of friends they have in the forces. They heard from many more people who had been helped by Help for Heroes while collecting sponsorship and donations, Rachael said.

She added: "The fundraising was hard work, but the support we got when we were doing collections was overwhelming. A lot of people told us stories of people they know who have been helped by the charity, so it's nice to feel we are helping those people."

Now Rachael, who is training to be a sports therapist and hopes to work with organisations like Help for Heroes, is planning to volunteer locally for the charity to help raise even more money.