Happy Hannah laps up Cycling UK cycle sessions

Hannah Pool pedals down the home straight to complete another lap at Palmer Park in Reading
We meet Hannah Pool, a young rider with cerebral palsy who derives enormous benefit from Cycling UK’s after-school cycle training sessions at Palmer Park.

Hannah smiles excitedly as she puts on her cycle helmet and elbow pads. “Just getting kitted out,” she says before getting on her bike to take to the track at the Palmer Park Sports Stadium in Reading. In no time she has completed a circuit as her mum and official lap-counter, Bernice, watches from the stand.

Hannah has attended the sessions every week for the past six years and loves the fresh air and exercise.

Mum Bernice says: “Hannah just likes going round and round and pedalling. I hold up my fingers to show how many laps she has done each time she comes down the home straight.

“Hannah loves coming to Palmer Park for the Cycling UK sessions every week. She doesn’t do any other exercise so this is really good for her, both physically and psychologically.

“She was still at school when we first came along and could already cycle, but this is such an ideal environment for her to keep fit in safe and friendly surroundings with experienced instructors overseeing things.”

The trainers are brilliant. If somebody comes along who cannot ride a bike, they just get them to ride a bike…simple as that. It’s wonderful to see.

Bernice Pool, Hannah’s mum

The Palmer Park sessions help teach young people to cycle and are organised by Javed Saddique, Cycling UK Cycling Development Officer for Reading, in association with Reading Borough Council. Helping Javed under the stadium floodlights on this particular dark winter afternoon were cycle trainers Gary Neilson and Sean Hayden.

Hannah, who was 23 at the end of January, is studying a Skills for Living course at Reading College. She pedals an average of 23 laps per Palmer Park session and boasts an impressive personal best of 30 laps – which is 12 kilometres, or nearly seven-and-a-half miles.

Bernice added: “It was utterly amazing when she did 30 laps one week. One of the trainers helped by going round with her. Javed and the others were really pleased with her – and for her.

“The trainers are brilliant. If somebody comes along who cannot ride a bike, they just get them to ride a bike…simple as that. It’s wonderful when you see it happen and see people’s confidence grow, especially with some of the really young children. I think the helpers really enjoy it, too.”

Cycling UK’s Javed said: “Hannah is a remarkable young woman and it’s clear she loves coming to Palmer Park. We’re delighted she enjoys the sessions so much – they wouldn’t seem the same if she wasn’t there each week!”

Hannah is one of 95,000 people across the UK who have benefited from Cycling UK’s Cycling Development projects over the past year.