A hairy challenge: the man dubbed 'Bugs in the Beard' begins mammoth cycle ride

Click above to watch a video report by ITV News Anglia's Natalie Gray

A military veteran from King's Lynn is cycling the entire coastline of mainland Britain to raise money for a Norfolk charity which has helped him with his mental health.

Merv Howard is doing the 5000 mile challenge for Walking With the Wounded.

Merv chatting to our reporter Natalie just before he set off on his challenge

He served 38 years with the RAF and was a former station warrant officer at RAF Regiment in Honnington in Suffolk but has served around around the world in places like Belize, in The Falklands War, Northern Ireland, Yugoslavia, Iraq, the list goes on and on.

Merv served with the RAF for 38 years

Merv will carrying out the challenge using an electric cargo bike but has so far not had to switch it on yet.

Well, it's normally done on race bikes in about two months. This is in no way a race bike so it's going to take well in excess of that. I've done 1300 miles training so far since January and I'm yet to switch the motor on. I know it works just in case but I'm yet to switch the motor on because that's the challenge.

Merv Howard
The specially adapted bike can be used as an electric bike- but Merv has so far not had to switch it on

Merv says he chose the Norfolk based mental health charity because they helped when others weren't.

"Yeah they helped so I want to help them. This is part of the therapy as well so yeah - this will allow me to have a good think."

He admits the nickname 'Bugs in the Beard' is literally because every time he finishes riding he finds bugs and all sorts of things lurking in his beard! Yuk!