A team of Corsham cyclists has touched down in America ahead of a coast-to-coast challenge and after a send-off at a gala dinner.

The four Spinhalers will take part in the 3,000-mile non-stop Race Across America to raise funds for Asthma UK, in memory of schoolgirl Antonia Thomas.

The 10-year-old died in 2009, after an asthma attack, inspiring former England and Bath rugby star John Hall, Martyn Grant, Dave Shephard and Neston Park proprietor Sir James Fuller to enter the tough race.

They flew to the US with a 13-strong support team, including Antonia’s father, Jeff.

The men will set off from California next Saturday and cross 12 states before finishing in Annapolis, Maryland.

The gala dinner took place at Hartham Park on May 22 and included a sports auction which raised £20,000.

Former Bath Rugby winger Dave Trick was master of ceremonies for the dinner, attended by 250 guests.

He said: “The feedback from those who attended has been absolutely brilliant. In addition to having a great night, with fantastic entertainment, we also managed to raise in the region of £37,000 for Asthma UK.”

England number eight John Hall, who had been among 29 riders who raised £50,000 on a return ride to Crickhowell in Wales, was eager to sign up for the race.

He said: “We, the London Pride Spinhalers, would like to thank everyone involved. A lot of time and effort went into the preparation [for the gala dinner]. We really appreciate everyone’s support for us and such a worthy cause.”

For more information, and to follow the team’s progress, see www.spinhalers.co.uk