Family of man who died from MND cycle from Morpeth to Norfolk to Dorset, spelling MND, in his memory

ITV Meridian reporter Natalie Verney has been speaking to Mark's family and friends

The daughter and son of a man from Oxfordshire who died from Motor Neurone Disease have raised more than £50,000 for charity by cycling the length of the country in his honour.

They are riding in memory of their father, accountant Mark Smith, who died last year after being diagnosed with the condition which affects the brain and nerves.

The money will go towards research in the hope that one day a cure will be found.

The route - from Morpeth to Norfolk to Dorset - spelled out the disease that took his life.

Mark's family told ITV News: "I miss him just being here really, just being part of the family. He was a big, big family man. He loved an adventure. We’d ski with him, and go surfing and yeah he loved the outdoors doing things with and for his family."

Mark’s widow Helen has been driving the support van and watching her kids take on the challenge

His symptoms progressed quickly- he was 24 hours on a breathing machine and became weaker in his limbs so it became more and more difficult to walk.

MND affects almost 5000 people in the UK at any one time.

Motor neurones are the nerves in the brain and spinal cord which carry messages to the muscles telling them what to do.

When they get injured those messages don’t get through and paralysis takes over.

Before Mark passed away, he wanted to fundraise for research to help find a cure.

In his final months, Mark helped his family plan a challenge to cycle the length of England.

Finish line in sight for those taking part in the charity cycle

Day 10 of the challenge was particularly special, when six of the medics who’d treated Mark at the John Radcliffe Hospital joined in.

He said: "I was really privileged to be asked. And I think as a team, as the MND team in Oxford we cycle together a lot for various challenges so once I mentioned it to everybody they were really keen to be asked."Mark had expected them to raise £2000 but in the end the team raised more than £50,000.

The money will go to the MND Association and the the Oxford Motor Neurone Disease Centre.

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know...