Vanessa Morris has been supporting Cycling UK’s Community Cycle Clubs for the past four years. Her dedication and enthusiasm has resulted in 24 clubs being established. She is a role-model for the committed volunteers who run these now self-sustaining groups.
Vanessa Morris said…
“I got into cycling in 1992 when I lived in Farnborough, Hampshire. I was working for the year as my industrial placement for university. I couldn’t drive and the bus service was shocking, so one of my colleagues suggested I buy a bike and cycle to work. It was 3 miles each way and I did it every day, come rain or shine.
“In 1994, a very good friend of mine died and she had asked all her close friends to do something for the British Heart Foundation, so I did my first charity bike ride of 25 miles that year and I was hooked.
“Since then I have used a bike for work every day, whatever job I have done. I have also done many charity bike rides and in 2001 I did my first triathlon. I didn’t enjoy it, so decided cycling would be my focus and I have taken part in lots of rides and sportives over the years.
“When I turned 40 in 2012, I cycled from Lands’ End to John o’Groats and every two years now, I have set myself a tougher cycling challenge and I love it. Especially climbing hills/mountains!
“I also encouraged my husband Andy to get involved, so he has joined me on these cycle challenges. He is partially sighted, so I lead the rides for him. It is a great way to see a country together.
“In 2016 I was made redundant from my job with the Prince’s Trust and an opportunity came up with Cycling UK to become a Cycling Development Officer in Birmingham. It was a brand new job so I could put my own stamp on it and essentially, I would be trying to encourage people to cycle in this massive car-packed city.
“I remember in the interview being told that ideally I would travel everywhere across the city on my bike and it would be working in diverse communities with people from all different backgrounds, getting them cycling and working with them to set up local community cycle clubs. My family and friends said it was the ideal job for me – and they were right!
I hope that my passion for cycling has rubbed off on them – and I really enjoy seeing confidence in people grow through cycling and people supporting each other through the joy of cycling. Long may it continue!
“I have worked for Cycling UK for four years and we now have 24 community cycle clubs in Birmingham. I work with many fantastic volunteers and have met so many interesting and lovely people through this community work.
“I hope that my passion for cycling has rubbed off on them – and I really enjoy seeing confidence in people grow through cycling and people supporting each other through the joy of cycling. Long may it continue!”
Vanessa was nominated for the 100 Women in Cycling by Ann-Marie Bathmaker who said:
“Vanessa is the inspiration behind the clubs. While the clubs are run using volunteers to lead rides and to teach people to ride bikes, without Vanessa, the momentum to develop, sustain and progress the clubs would not happen.
“She has the capacity to work with people from all different backgrounds and communities and get the best out of them.
“She ensures that funding is secured to keep the club, the bikes and the events going. She shares good ideas and praises people for the work they do.
“She is fantastic at addressing challenges and difficulties, where for example clubs are not getting off the ground, or are faltering, or need help of some kind. I could give many specific examples of how the club that I volunteer for would exist in name only without Vanessa, whose aim is to get a club like this to be self-sustaining.
“For me personally, I could have given up long ago without her help to overcome challenging moments.
“In addition to all the work she does for Birmingham clubs, she is a role model as a cyclist. She rides everywhere and she loves cycling and that comes across whenever you meet her.
“It means that she does not only support the community clubs, she inspires them through her own enthusiasm for the bike.
In Birmingham we are very lucky. Every city needs not just a community clubs development officer, but a development officer as committed and inspiring as Vanessa Morris to support their community cycle club work
“In Birmingham we are very lucky. Every city needs not just a community clubs development officer, but a development officer as committed and inspiring as Vanessa Morris to support their community cycle club work.”