Intrepid cyclists from the University of Chichester have raised around £5,000 for refugee scholars after embarking on a 24-hour race to Paris.
More than £4,000 has been donated to the riders’ 170-mile challenge, which will be used to establish a fund for persecuted academics from war-torn countries.
The seven-strong group, which included lecturers and staff, rode out from the institution’s Chichester campus on Friday before reaching the French capital the following evening.
University of Chichester Chaplain John Dane, who organised the challenge, said the cyclists hope to raise at least £5,000 for the new Vice-Chancellor refugee scholar fund.
He added: “Around the world, scholars have long suffered harassment, detention, torture, and other forms of persecution as a result of their work. We are appealing to our community to help us save lives, to make the University of Chichester, in a small way, a community of safety and academic freedom.
“The fund can make a huge difference to the lives of refugee scholars and their families so please support with as much or as little as you can as it will make a huge impact.”
A new website has been set up to collect additional donations for the cycle challenge and Vice-Chancellor’s refugee scholar fund. All money raised will help with the living costs of academics who are directly supported by the University of Chichester through tuition fee waivers and accommodation.
The riders’ 170-mile journey from Chichester to Paris also included laps around the Goodwood motor circuit to cover the distance of the ferry transfer from Dover to Calais.
Cyclist Marcus Atkinson, pictured middle, said: “This was among the hardest challenges of our lives but the thought of the donations we had received kept us focused in the face of torrential rain, broken wheels, and sleep deprivation.
“Although we had trained during lunch hours and after work for several months, none of us were expecting just how extreme the challenge was to be – but this made reaching the finish line at Eiffel Tower that much sweeter.”