By Humphrey Carter

THIS weekend, a group of members of the British film and television industry is training for an annual cycle ride over the Alps to raise money for Leuka, the Hammersmith Hospital's leukaemia charity.

The annual Fireflies charity cycle celebrates its tenth anniversary this year and founder, the award-winning director Nick Livesey, told the Bulletin yesterday that the aim is to make an accumulative total of one million pounds this time around.

Livesey, who works for Ridley Scott Associates directed the opening scenes for the films Gladiator and Hannibal, among other movies, as well as adverts for leading brands such as Fosters which he in fact shot here in Majorca with Palma Pictures three years ago using the island as a back drop for Australia.

This year's 1000 kilometre cycle starts in Geneva on June 15 and the pack of 75 cyclists hopes to reach Cannes on June 23 on the eve of the start of the Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival.

On Friday, Nick arrived in Palma with a team of 15 for some serious mountain training but, before hitting the hills from their Pollensa base, they stopped off at Palma Pictures for lunch. “Palma Pictures have been great supporters of the charity for a number of years now and they always look after us well,” Nick said. The Fireflies, about which Nick has also written a book, has impressive backing.

RSA, Ridley Scott Associates, have been huge sponsors right from the very start but the Fireflies are also backed by Pinewood studios and many of the UK's top film and TV production companies as well as top sporting personalities such as John Terry and Didier Drogba, and a host of actors and actresses. “A Fireflies has also been set up in the States, they're riding from San Francisco to Los Angeles in August and there's going to be one in New Zealand too,” Nick said. “It's great that it's going international because we consider this a very worthy cause. So many people have had a family member struck by cancer and doctors claim that if they can find a cure for leukaemia, they will be able to cure a host of other cancers and that is why I decided on leukaemia,” Nick explained. “We've raised well over 800'000 pounds since we started and are confident of breaching the one million mark this year and what's nice is that we get to see an end product. “All the machinery and equipment the money raised has been used to buy, so we know we, the cyclists and our sponsors like Palma Pictures, are making a difference,” Nick added.

The Fireflies slogan is “for those who suffer we ride” and Mission Impossible actor Dougray Scott says of the charity ride “People with cancer face something like climbing a mountain every day. It's humbling.” To pledge your support visit the Fireflies website www.thefirefliesride.com