Jack Payne, Andy Hessenthaler and Connor Essam take the Tour De Kent challenge

Gills stars past and present were at MEMS Priestfield Stadium this morning to take part in the Tour De Kent charity cycle challenge.

The three day bike ride will cover 200 miles of Kent countryside, taking in 21 Kent football grounds, raising life-changing funds for the Gills official charity Take Heart Mercy Mission and Cardiac Risk in the Young.

Hundreds of riders assembled at Priestfield this morning for the 9.30am start including Gills stars Andy Hessenthaler, Mark Patterson and Darren Hare.

Jack Payne and Connor Essam also took part in this morning's stage along with development squad players Jake Hessenthaler, Josh Hare and Jack Sellens.

Tommy T and the GFC Gems were on hand to wave off the riders who will cover 50 miles today, cycling from Priestfield Stadium all the way down to Margate this evening.

To view our images from this morning's event launch click the arrows above to scroll through our gallery.

To show your support for the riders and make a donation to Take Heart Mercy Mission click here