A FIREFIGHTER based in Bridge of Allan has been taking on a 300-mile charity cycling challenge.

Watch Commander Eddy Fotheringham has been cycling throughout May to raise funds for Blood Cancer UK and has already doubled his target.

He is cycling a distance equivalent to a trek between London and Paris, having been inspired by close friend and former firefighter Ally Boyle.

Ally is fighting his own battle with blood cancer, but amazingly, he has also been netting funds for the good cause.

Eddy, who has already completed 247miles despite having no previous cycling experience, said: "I saw Ally was doing a rowing challenge for Blood Cancer UK and I thought if he can do this, and he has blood cancer, I can surely do something.

"So, I started cycling, although I've never cycled before.

"I've never done anything like this and I've surprised myself.

"I've been going out just about every day and through all weathers."

Eddy, who has served in the fire service for more than 30 years, met Ally when they both worked at Stirling Fire Station where they became friends.

Ally quickly rose through the ranks, becoming deputy assistant chief officer.

However, at the age of just 36 he was diagnosed with myelodysplasia, a type of blood cancer that affects the bone marrow, after a period of feeling unwell.

Despite the devastating diagnosis, he kept working for another six years when he retired as he became too ill to work.

Showing his strength and determination, Ally went on to fund a partnership between the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service and the Anthony Nolan charity.

His initiative, which was last year introduced at Wee County secondary schools, aims to save the lives of people with blood cancer and runs a world-wide register of stem cell donors to help find matches for patients desperately in need of a transplant.

Indeed, the partnership between the fire service and the charity has been thriving for more than a decade, having recruited 18,500 people recruited to the Anthony Nolan register as potential stem cell donors.

Eddy added: "Ally always stood out.

"He was a bit of character and you could tell from early on that he was going to go far.

"We had a lot of laughs and escapades back in the day."

Ally said his old friend is a "fantastic representation of the community based values if the SFRS".

He added: "As well as being a blood cancer patient, I'm also a trustee of Blood Cancer UK so I have first-hand experience of the amazing work they do to support people like me.

"They can only do this because of the fundraising efforts of people like Eddy."

People can visit bit.ly/345PrCV to support Eddy's fundraiser.