A TRIO of hardy souls put the turkey on hold as they abandoned their armchairs on Christmas Day to complete a 16-mile gruelling hike to raise £2,000 for charity.

It was the third successive year that friends Lea McGowan, Jason Smith and Darren James had decided to forego festive food for fundraisers on December 25.

The trio, all regulars the Swan and Cemetery pub in Manchester Road, Bury, completed their latest challenge while carrying 35lbs of sand and 10lbs of kit in their rucksacks. They braved the elements to walk from Winter Hill to Peel Tower and then on to the Swan and Cemetery.

Now, thanks to their heroic efforts, they have raised £2,000 for Talking2Minds, a charity for Forces personnel and others who have suffered post traumatic stress disorder. Darren, Jason and Lea have undertaken numerous fundraising exploits for a variety of good causes during the last seven years.

Lea, aged 48, of Harrow Close, Bury, said: “In the past, we’ve raised money for Help for Heroes, the Fusilier Museum and the Royal Marines charity. This time around, the three of us set out on Christmas Day for the 16-mile hike.

“The challenge took longer than we thought, due to the rain, mist and mud. We set off at 9am and got back to the Swan and Cemetery at around 5.30pm. It was one of the most difficult challenges we have done, but we enjoyed one or two beers when we got back. I had my Christmas lunch on Boxing Day.”