CYCLIST Melanie Hopkins cried at the finish line of her 966-mile pedal-powered marathon, thinking of the generosity of the friends, family and strangers who had donated thousands of pounds towards her fundraising ride.

The Royal Wootton Bassett Academy receptionist has just completed a mammoth cycle ride from Lands End to John O’Groats together with husband Malcolm and friends Steve Scamell and Emma Cooper.

The group has raised at least £5,000 for Great Western Hospital charity Brighter Futures, with the money going to breast cancer services at the Marlborough Road hospital.

Melanie, 52, said: “It was amazing. Absolutely wonderful. I loved it from start to finish. I couldn’t stop smiling through the whole thing. We cycled through England and Scotland at its absolute best.

“But without people’s generosity and support none of this would have been possible at all. They have been absolutely phenomenal.

“That was the thing that made me cry when I got to John O’Groats. My husband said, ‘Just think of what we’ve raised.’”

Melanie began raising cash for cancer causes a decade ago, after the death of her mother, 78-year-old Joan Jones, who battled breast cancer for three years. Her death “left a massive hole in my life”, Melanie said. Following the death, she started taking part in charity triathlon events.

Stood at the top of mainland Britain, Melanie called her aunt – mum Joan’s best friend: “She said: ‘Your mum would be so, so proud of what you’ve achieved.’”

The fundraiser she was stunned by the generosity of strangers. In Cumnock, the cyclists walked into a factory shop café, damp and bedraggled after pedalling through rain. Rather than turn their noses up at the soggy group, the OAPs in the café turned out their pockets into the cyclists’ charity bucket. “I was absolutely bowled away,” Melanie said.

Joining her on the ride was husband Malcolm, 48, and his work colleagues Steve and Emma. Royal Wootton Bassett Academy lent them a van to use as a support vehicle, while two more friends, Carole Elliott and Sue Corrigan, took time off work to support the ride.

“The best parts of the ride were when all four of us were together, going down a straight, looking at the road ahead and thinking, ‘This is what it’s all about’,” Melanie said.

Lisa Utting of Brighter Futures said of the cycle fundraiser: “She’s an absolute star. To complete that challenge is just unbelievable.”