WHEN the Hanlons suffered a family bereavement, they decided to do something about it by embarking on a mammoth charity challenge.

Three generations of the Wirral family - brothers Liam and Sean,, father Ray, and nephew Ryan - are to take part in a 1,000-mile triathlon across Europe to raise money for a variety of good causes, and to promote the benefits of sport and healthy living.

The triathlon will involve a bike relay for the 863-mile journey from John O'Groats to Land's End, followed by a 23-mile swim across the Channel, and finally a 150-mile run from Calais to Brussels.

The tri-4-life European challenge will take place in 2006 to tie in with the Liverpool Year of Sport in the run-up to Capital of Culture.

Twelve members from the Mersey Triathlon Club are taking part in the challenge, and as part of their preparations they braved the wind and rain to put in a practice session yesterday in the Salthouse Dock for the Mersey swim next month.

The group will participate in a range of local sporting events in the run-up to their gruelling challenge to make sure they are at the peak of physical and mental fitness for the triathlon.

Liam Hanlon, 36, from West Kirby, who is the event director of the challenge, said it was the realisation of a dream to make a non-stop journey from the northernmost point of the UK to the capital of the European community.

"The idea came about four years ago after a number of family bereavements," said Mr Hanlon. "We just wanted to do some good for the local community and that's when we came up with the idea for a triathlon event.

"All the money raised will go to a range of local, regional, national and international charities, including Stick 'n' Step for children with cerebral palsy in Wirral."

Joining Mr Hanlon will be his brother Sean, 37, and father Ray, who will be 60 when the triathlon takes place, and nephew Ryan, who will be 16.

The two teams of six are all drawn from the Merseyside area and will take it in turns to participate in the non-stop challenge over a two-week period.

During the bike relay, they will present a roadshow at each of the six English cities involved in the bidding process for Capital of Culture, along with Edinburgh in Scotland.

Once they reach Land's End, they will transfer to Dover for a relay swim across the Channel, and then run the 150 miles to Brussels, representing the capital of Europe.