A local man is supporting a mental health charity by cycling to the Arctic Circle.

Lee Horseman is raising money for Stockton-based charity The Headlight Project by cycling the North Cape 4000, a 2,400-mile unassisted bike-packing challenge from Italy to the Arctic Circle.

After cycling for the past three decades, Lee, who is from Hutton Rudby, said he is ready to take on one last challenge. He explained: “I wanted to raise funds for the charity to help the team in their mission to raise awareness of the support that’s out there for those who are suffering from depression and contemplating taking their own life.

“The work The Headlight Project does to support mental health in the local community is absolutely vital. I’ve not long lost my mum to cancer, so I understand the impact grief can have on those left behind. Their work with children is also crucial; having recently become a dad, I realise how early support can make a difference.”

The Headlight Project was launched in January 2019 following the suicide of popular Teesside businessman Russ Devereux.

Its aim is to reduce the number of deaths by suicide in the local area. It does this in three ways: by providing therapeutic support to children and adults who have suffered a traumatic bereavement by suicide, by visiting schools and talking about the subject, and by providing training to organisations and workplaces.

Lee, who is taking part in the North Cape 4000 event for the first time, added: “I live in the same village as Russ’ family, and I knew Russ from the local pub where we had spoken a few times. I actually knocked on Catherine, his widow and founder of the charity’s, door to tell her I was thinking of doing the challenge and could I raise money for them.”

Founder of The Headlight Project Catherine Devereux said: “We are delighted Lee has decided to raise money for the charity by cycling the North Cape 4000. It’s a high-profile event that will raise awareness of the organisation, meaning we can provide more support to those in need.

“Without the support of fundraisers like Lee, the charity simply couldn’t continue to do its work in the local area. We are so grateful to Lee for choosing The Headlight Project for this epic challenge, and it is wonderful that he had known Russ too.”

The ultra-cycling event begins in July and is expected to last two weeks. Riders cycle through six countries completely unassisted, only checking in four times during the event.

The challenge is being sponsored by Devereux Transport, LV Well CBD, Charles Clinkard, CJ Construction, IOS, Naylors Gavin Black, NRG Cycles, Roseberry Financial and Tomahawk Steakhouse. Another local company, Presca, has designed a kit with all the corporate logos, and Teesside Airport is hosting a send-off party for Lee before his flight on July 21st.

Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen said: “I’m delighted Lee has chosen to fly from Teesside on the first leg of his extraordinary trip in aid of such a good cause. The massive scale of Lee’s undertaking really shows how our local people are willing to go the extra mile – or 2,400 in this case – to help those who need it.

“The airport has been more than happy to assist in getting his bike to Italy alongside him, and to give him the send-off he deserves in our Landside Café. We’ll all be cheering him on during his travels and following his progress closely.”

Catherine added: “It’s fantastic that so many sponsors have come on board to help Lee in his efforts. The charity relies on the generosity of sponsors, volunteers and fundraisers to continue its work, and we are really pleased that ten local businesses have come forward to support this endeavour.

“We are also grateful to business coach Ian Kinnery, who is working with our trustees and leadership team to help us achieve our goal of reducing the number of deaths by suicide in our local area. Having grown organically since 2019, his knowledge and experience are making a real difference in taking us to the next level.

“We wish Lee the best of luck on this epic challenge and we’ll all be rooting for him!”

If you want to follow Lee on his journey, use his race number 278 to track his progress on the North Cape 4000’s YouTube channel.

Support the work of The Headlight Project by sponsoring him here: www.justgiving.com/fundraising/NORTHCAPE4000