A little bit of recycling goes a long, long way - especially when the Times lends a hand.A year ago Mattishall cycle enthusiast and special needs worker Phil Hewitt appealed to readers for any unwanted or broken cycles that could be mended as necessary and used to fund the Breckland Special Olympics Cycling Group.
A little bit of recycling goes a long, long way - especially when the Times lends a hand.
A year ago Mattishall cycle enthusiast and special needs worker Phil Hewitt appealed to readers for any unwanted or broken cycles that could be mended as necessary and used to fund the Breckland Special Olympics Cycling Group.
The response was overwhelming - and scores of Norfolk's unwanted two-wheelers have begun useful new lives all over the world.
Although unprepared for the volume of calls he received, Mr Hewitt refused to be daunted and, aided by two friends and a trailer, he collected around 130 bikes from all over the county and stored them in chicken sheds owned by another friend, Sid Everett.
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“Some were sold and we are able to make £300 for our group which will pay for training for a year,” said Mr Hewitt.
“We gave about 80 bikes to Wayland Prison for renovation in their cycle workshops before being sent to projects in the UK, Kenya, Sierra Leone, Belarus and Iraq. They also restored a cycle for a member of our group who has Down's Syndrome which has enabled him and his father to go out cycling together on public roads for the first time. He wrote a heartfelt thank you letter to the two prisoners who'd worked on the bike.”
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Yet more machines were sent to a Colchester-based recycling project which sends renovated bikes to remote parts of Africa.
Bracon Ash garage owner Paul Riches also got involved and built a special tricycle for the Special Olympics group - and donated another tricycle to a young disabled group member.
“A lady asked us to look out for a trike for her disabled daughter and we duly found one for her,” said Mr Hewitt, who was also given two sewing machines which he passed on to a man in New Buckenham for repair and shipping to African villages.
“Scores of people were pleased that they didn't have to drive to the tip with their old bikes and I'm sure they will be even more pleased to know that they are being put to good use,” said Mr Hewitt, who added that bikes had continued to arrive until the end of January.
“I would like to thank everybody who donated bikes to us. It was a bit overwhelming at first, but looking back it was great success,” said Mr Hewitt, who spent up to 10 hours a week on the project at its peak. “I think a lot of good came out of it, but I am glad it has finally come to an end!”
•The Breckland Special Olympics Cycling Group offers people from the local area with learning difficulties a chance to improve their riding skills under the guidance of a qualified coach. Contact Iain Dawson on 01953 861144 for more details.
ON THEIR BIKES: Sid Everett (left), Wayland Prison driver Mervyn……… and Breckland Special Olympics Group rider Roger Hills load another consignment of cycles for restoration at Wayland.