Walsall charity cycling group theft victims start new year on new wheels

Walsall Arboretum Community Cycling Club before the theft
Walsall Arboretum Community Cycling Club before the theft
A cycling group running confidence-building rides at Walsall Arboretum is back up and running after a mass theft, all thanks to bicycle donations from local people

Walsall Arboretum Community Cycle Club, a group affiliated to national cycling charity Cycling UK, was put on hold in November, after all 11 of the group’s new bicycles were stolen from a locked compound. The bikes were just a few weeks old, and had been chosen especially for new or unconfident cyclists. The group’s participants, many of them elderly women, were devastated by the news.

No one has been arrested in connection with the crime, but following a media campaign by Cycling UK, the local community responded with great generosity to replace the bikes in the weeks before Christmas.

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.

- Lesley Easter, Cycling Development Officer

Lesley Easter, Cycling UK’s Cycling Development Officer for the West Midlands, said: “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. 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.”

Sharon Sewell, of Newport, Shropshire, was one of the generous people to respond to the call, after hearing about the theft on television. She said: “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.

“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.

“It’s great to see the group is back up and running again, and I’m wishing them all the best for 2018.”

Kishori Agrawal, a member of Walsall Arboretum Community Cycle Club and a retired GP said: “When I heard that the bikes were stolen I felt shocked and horrified, but the positive response was amazing.

“Cycling has given me a new lease of life. I feel more energetic and active, it’s given me an opportunity to get out in the fresh air and meet other like-minded people.

“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.”

Notes to editors

  1. Cycling UK, the national cycling charity, inspires and helps people to cycle and keep cycling, whatever kind of cycling they do or would like to do. Over a century’s experience tells us that cycling is more than useful transport; it makes you feel good, gives you a sense of freedom and creates a better environment for everyone. www.cyclinguk.org
  2. Walsall Arboretum Community Cycle Club is a Cycling UK affiliated group offering free bike rides to adults looking to get back on two wheels or even try cycling for the very first time in a safe and social atmosphere. Further information on the group can be found here: www.cyclinguk.org/local-groups/walsall-arboretum-community-cycle-club
  3. The theft occurred overnight between Saturday 11 and Sunday 12 November, after a locked compound at the Arboretum was broken into. Anyone with any potential information about the incident should contact 101, quoting crime reference number 20WS/244838R/17
  4. The original press release on the theft can be found here: https://www.cyclinguk.org/press-release/charity-cycling-group-walsall-d…;
  5. Cycling UK’s Community Cycle Clubs work with community groups and charities across England and Scotland to enable people to get around, improve their fitness and have fun on a cycle. Funding from the Department for Transport, Transport Scotland and local authorities is enabling Cycling UK to bring the joy of cycling to new audiences including young people, people on low incomes and people with long term health conditions. More information on Community Cycling Clubs can be found here: www.cyclinguk.org/community-cycle-clubs
  6. The Big Bike Revival family-friendly events take place at bike recycling centres across England and Scotland. It’s designed to help get unloved bikes back into use, teach people to learn how to look after them and rediscover how much fun cycling can be. More information can be found here: www.bigbikerevival.org.uk
  7. Joan Reynolds, the eldest member of the group, recently got back on a bike after 65 years. Read her amazing story here: https://www.cyclinguk.org/news/85-year-old-grandma-takes-cycling-after-…

Press contact information

For more information, images and filming opportunities please contact the national Cycling UK Press Office on 01483 238 315, 07786 320 713 or email publicity@cyclinguk.org

The group will be meeting on 16 January at Walsall Arboretum.