A HELENSBURGH dad who lost his six-month-old son to a rare condition has passed through the town in the middle of a 1,200-mile charity cycle.

Ian Chambers has already raised thousands of pounds - and passed his goal - in memory of Ben, who died from spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) 25 years ago.

The rare genetic neuromuscular condition causes progressive muscle weakness and loss of movement as muscles waste away.

Babies with the most severe form, Type 1, will start to show symptoms in the first few months of their lives, and usually do not see their first birthday.

Ian, who was in the Royal Navy at HMNB Clyde, has teamed up with friends to cycle from Lands End to John O'Groats.

But they added a 300-mile detour up the west coast to take three of the cyclists through their home communities of Cardross, Helensburgh and Garelochhead.

Helensburgh Advertiser: The three cyclists heading north to John O'Groats. A four cyclist had to drop out earlier for health reasonsThe three cyclists heading north to John O'Groats. A four cyclist had to drop out earlier for health reasons (Image: Facebook)

It makes for an extra challenging route on top of the 110 miles a day they are covering.

They are doing 20,000 metres of climbing on the route - two and a half times the height of Mt Everest - and some of the toughest climbs in the UK.

Ian, 54, told the Advertiser: "Having lost Ben to SMA, we were keen to support the charity that helped us and continues to help others.

"It's been fantastic. The legs are all doing OK, and we're still speaking, still smiling and having a great time.

"I have to say a big thanks to these guys, because although the charity is very personal to me, they very generously agreed this is what we were going to raise the money for."

The cyclists left Land's End on May 24 and aim to reach John O'Groats this Saturday, June 3.

Helensburgh Advertiser:

Helensburgh Cycles has been a key supporter and sponsor, and gave the bikes a tune-up during their half-hour stop in the town on Tuesday.

Family and friends were also on hand to wave them off on the next leg.

Paul Appelquist, 56, from Garelochhead, who met Ian during their early days in the Navy, said: "It's fair to say, to do something you enjoy is brilliant. To have the opportunity to contribute to a charity is an honour and we've enjoyed doing that."

Neil Stevenson, 58, a friend of Paul from Cardross, is also with the crew, along with Giles Lomax, chief executive of SMA UK, the charity for whom the group is raising funds.

Giles, who joined the team on the route for a few hours, said: "It's really important that these guys continue to support the charity and all the great work that we doing - being an advocate for the condition, helping families, helping young people and children get access to treatment and really raising that profile of rare diseases in general.

"They've raised a phenomenal amount of money so far.

"There's a personal connect with Ian as well with his son 25 years ago so it means extra special and I feel very privileged to lead the organisation and see the guys doing such a tough route and working to reach the John O'Groats sign on Saturday."

The crew has already raised more than £6,100 and have another £1,200 in Gift Aid.

To donate, visit https://justgiving.com/page/lejogforsma.

Visit smauk.org.uk to find out more about the condition.

Helensburgh Advertiser: QR code for JustGiving page for Helensburgh cyclistsQR code for JustGiving page for Helensburgh cyclists (Image: Supplied)