AN EASTENDERS actor from Basingstoke has offered his support to a team of cyclists raising funds for a local cancer charity.

James Bye, who plays Martin Fowler in the BBC soap, is backing Team Champion The Wacky Riders – a group of 26 fundraisers who will take part in a London to Brighton bike ride for Ark Cancer Centre Charity.

The 32-year-old former Queen Mary’s College student is a friend of Perry Champion, director of Basingstoke construction company Champion Group, which is the driving force behind the fundraising team.

Father-of-two James, who joined the cast of the award-winning drama in December 2014, hopes local people will back the team ahead of the Bike 4 Cancer event on September 11.

He said: “When Perry told me about the charity and the cancer treatment centre project, it was clear that this is a very important fundraising campaign and a fantastic project.

“Cancer is sadly something that affects most families, and the new centre will clearly make a big, and positive, difference to people in the Basingstoke area.

“I wish Perry and the team all the best for the September 11 fundraising ride, and I hope that local people will give generously and show their support for them.”

James, who went to The Hurst School in Baughurst, still has family in the Basingstoke area and likes to come back as much as his busy schedule allows.

He said: “The Basingstoke area is close to my heart, and one of the reasons why I’m pleased to support a good cause like Ark Cancer Centre Charity and the cancer treatment centre project which will deliver a positive benefit to people.”

The cycling fundraisers have also received backing from local businesses and individuals, including Basingstoke-based Cotton Graphics, owned by former England and Hampshire cricketer Shaun Udal, which is supplying the riders’ shirts, and putting the logos of the main sponsors on these.

Mr Champion said: “It’s great to have the support of James and the many businesses and individuals who have generously sponsored the team and made donations. We are all looking forward to the big day.”

Ark Cancer Centre Charity is raising £5million to fund a new cancer centre at a site earmarked near to Junction 7 of the M3.

Mark Jones, director of fundraising and communications for the charity, said: “The charity is grateful to James for his show of support. Public backing for the charity and cancer treatment centre project continues to grow, and this latest high-profile recognition from James will help to increase awareness of both.

“The charity is also very grateful to all of the generous businesses and individual supporters who have got behind the Team Champion cyclists. The riders, sponsors and supporters are all helping to make a difference to the fundraising campaign.”

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