By Nigel Wynn
A cycling club in Walsall that helps adults learn to ride a bike and improve their cycling confidence is back up and running after having all of its 11 bikes stolen in November.
After appeals for people to donate bikes were met with an enthusiastic response from the local community, the Walsall Arboretum Community Cycle Club in the West Midlands is now open for business once again.
The stolen bikes were taken from a locked store in Walsall Arboretum, after they had only just been purchased thanks to £3000 of funding from Sport England and Walsall Council.
The Cycling UK-affliated club are used used free of charge by local residents to “rediscover the wonderful health and social benefits of regular cycling”.
“It’s been incredibly moving to see how many wonderful people came forward to help the group in our hour of need and give us their bikes," said Lesley Easter, Cycling UK’s Cycling Development Officer for the West Midlands.
"Thanks to their donations, we’ve been able to resume our activities very quickly and keep our participants cycling, including Joan, the eldest at 85 years old.”
It wasn't just local people who helped replace the bikes, but local businesses too.
Sharon Sewell took her unused bike to her local bike shop after seeing news of the theft on television. The shop fixed it for free before it was passed on to the charity.
“I’d had a mountain bike in the shed for a few years that I hadn’t used, so I tracked the group down on Facebook," said Sewell.
“The staff at my local bike shop Nova Cycles were fantastic; they had seen the story too and serviced the bike and replaced the gears for free before it was donated."
Walsall Arboretum Community Cycle Club member Kishori Agrawal underlined how important the club is, and why it is so great that they now have bikes to ride again.
"I’m staying motivated and keeping my age-related health problems at bay and most of all leading an independent life and feeling happy. My dream is to go cycling with my children and grandchildren by canal for miles.”
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