A FITNESS fanatic and gym owner has helped raise vital funds for an animal safe haven after leading a gruelling bike-a-thon.

Dan Loveless, 19, of Thorrington, only launched Forge Fitness & Nutrition earlier this year but is already making a difference within the community.

The personal trainer recently organised a cycling challenge at his Thorrington complex in aid of the Greenland Grove Animal Sanctuary, in St Osyth.

The long-running centre, founded by Carol Jacobs, has provided a home for more than 30 horses, ponies, cows and a variety of other species for about 27 years.

During the pandemic, however, it struggled to generate a regular income as a result of not being able to hold its usual charity events and open-days.

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Dan said: “I saw Carol had lost a huge amount of income so thought it was a perfect opportunity to utilise my amazing clients to raise money for such a brilliant cause.

“Animals are a huge part of my life, but my mum volunteers down at the charity shop and sanctuary, so I knew first-hand how badly the pandemic had hit them.”

As part of Dan’s testing challenge, more than 60 people, with the oldest being 82 and the youngest 11, cycled a total of 1425km on an exercise bike over 24-hours.

“The event was brilliant, my clients absolutely loved it, with everyone really taking on board the spirit of the event,” added Dan.

“I absolutely loved running it and seeing the happiness it brought to people and it is amazing what the community can do when we all work together.

“It feels great to have raised so much money for the animals, to see people happy and enjoying themselves on the day.”

In total Dan and his pedal-pushers generated more than £1,625, which will now be used to help the sanctuary navigate the colder months.

Carol, who took part over night with Martin Bailey after feeding her animals, said: “This money will make a massive difference to us as we head into winter.

“The sanctuary hasn't had any fundraising open days for two summers now so this will be a much needed boost.

“Thank you to everyone who was involved and special thank you to Dan for choosing our sanctuary.”