A TEAM of Mini Plant colleagues have set off on a 200-mile trip to raise awareness of men's mental health issues.

Seven staff members are visiting car manufacturing plants in Swindon, Oxford and Birmingham during a two-day round trip which is putting their pedalling powers to the test.

They had a surprise send-off from Swindon Town chairman Clem Morfuni and CEO Rob Angus, who stopped by to wish them luck and take photos.

Mr Angus said: "What you're doing is fantastic. Think about those charities as you go through the hard yards. Maybe get your Swindon shirts on as you ride around Oxford!"

Roopy Chahal is the mental health ambassador for the Swindon plant and helped organise the fundraiser for Mind and the Alzheimer's Society after being inspired by an idea from one of the workers.

Roopy said: "It's already raised a lot of awareness and people are asking questions after hearing about this on social media.

"We started this by supporting one person and now it has helped to support many more. Thank you to our friends, family and work colleagues for their generosity."

Paul Clark, Simon Randall, Paul Higgs, Peter Hayes, Mark Adams, Sean Herbert and Mark Brown aimed to raise £10,000 with their big bike ride and smashed that target just before the challenge began.

They have been fitting in practice routes of up to 100 miles two to three times a week in-between their shifts at the Stratton factory.

Mark Brown said: "I'm excited and apprehensive. This is an important cause. Everyone goes through something in their life and to be able to talk about it is a big thing.

Paul Clark added: "There's a nine-mile climb on the way back, that will be the hardest part."

Peter Hayes said: "I've never done anything like this before and I'm really excited.

"Everyone knows someone who has been affected by mental health, especially over the last 18 months, and men don't.

Group leader Dave Smith is following along in a back-up car stocked with repair kits, food and other supplies to help keep the cyclists going during this marathon trip.

He said: "We have to give a bit back, this is a lovely thing to do and they have given so much time and effort to prepare for it.

"There are so many people inside and outside our business who are suffering in different ways, so we need to raise awareness of those issues and provide that support."

To donate, visit uk.virginmoneygiving.com/Team/MINIProductionTriangleCharityBikeRide