STAFF at a childcare business have completed a gruelling 50km bike ride as part of its efforts to raise more than £20,000 for Chester Zoo.

Twelve colleagues from Kids Planet cycled from the city's popular visitor attraction to the company's head office in Lymm, Cheshire – and managed to finish the route an hour earlier than planned.

The group were cheered on their way by Chester Zoo chief executive officer Dr Mark Pilgrim and the Lord Mayor of Chester, councillor Mark Williams.

Throughout the summer, Kids Planet staff, along with children and their families, have been raising thousands of pounds to support Chester Zoo as it deal with significant financial losses caused by the coronavirus outbreak.

The childcare provider is hoping to raise more than £20,000 to adopt as many animals as they can.

To achieve this 7,000 children – aged two to five – have been taking part in sponsored walks, hops, jumps or leaps with the aim to cover a collective 1,700 miles – the sum total of all 52 nurseries' individual mileage to Chester Zoo.

Kids Planet chief executive officer, along with her sister and childcare director Lucy Kaczmarska, have always been avid supporters of Chester Zoo.

She said: "As soon as we heard about the plight of Chester Zoo we wanted to help. We know how much the zoo means to our families and they have been incredibly generous with their support, as have our staff.

"Our name, Kids Planet, reminds us all that children are the most important considerations when we look at the impacts, good and bad, on our world today.

Chester and District Standard:

"The animal kingdom and their survival, or threatened extinction, can teach all of us a thing or two about sustainability and environmental responsibilities.

"We also believe children should learn the importance of giving and experience the wonderful feelings that it can instil to do something for the good of others.

"But overall, we encourage learning through play and what better way to encourage our children to take an interest in the world around them.

"It's been a refreshing change for us to don our cycling shorts and head out all day in the fresh air. We really enjoyed it – some more than others when it came to the hills.

"It was such a delight to be cheered off by the Lord Mayor and Chester Zoo’s CEO Dr Mark Pilgrim and cheered home by the children. We’ve also added some miles to our target as well as a considerable boost to our crowdfunding page.

"Thank you to everyone who has supported us to date, your kindness has been remarkable. We are proud to support Chester Zoo and hope that our efforts can help them through these difficult times and look forward to continuing our relationship with them through our animal sponsorship programme."

The Lord Mayor, councillor Mark Williams was delighted to be involved in the send-off.

He said: "It's great to see companies like Kids Planet support worthy causes within Chester. I was a keen cyclist in my youth and was pleased to see people having a day out on their bikes raising money for a good cause.

"The zoo is one of our finest treasures and is enjoyed by millions of people from all over the world. We hope it won't be long before we can look forward to a brighter future for them."

Dr Mark Pilgrim added: "We’re really proud of everyone at Kids Planet who have done so much to help our cause. It's really boosted our morale at such a difficult time for our great charity zoo.

"I also think it’s so important to encourage children to appreciate animals, nature and the environment and to learn about the world around them and it’s wonderful that the young children at Kids Planet are encouraged to do so as part of their everyday learning."