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Group was launched in September with brand new bikes

A Walsall cycling group which runs confidence-building rides has been devastated by the theft of all 11 of its newly-purchased bikes. Founded in September as part of this year’s Big Bike Revival, Walsall Arboretum Community Cycle Club is appealing for information as well as unwanted bikes to help it overcome the loss.

A locked compound at the Arboretum was broken into overnight between Saturday November 11 and Sunday November 12.

Anyone with information about the incident should contact 101, quoting crime reference number 20WS/244838R/17​

Affiliated to Cycling UK, Walsall Arboretum Community Cycle Club was launched with the support of Walsall Council which secured over £3,000 in funding from Sport England to purchase the bikes.

The bikes were brand new and chosen specifically for new cyclists and those lacking confidence.

“It is an upsetting crime, and deeply frustrating for everyone,” said Lesley Easter, Cycling UK’s Cycling Development Officer for the West Midlands.

“We had our first meeting when the bikes were delivered on 26 September and we’ve seen continuous high participation. The group is made up mostly of bright and brilliant senior citizens, most of them ladies, including Joan, the eldest at 85 years old.”

Surinder has been a member of the group since its second session, after deciding to get on a bike for the very first time at the age of 71.

“When I saw the group I knew this was something I finally wanted to learn, now that I’m retired and don’t have to devote all my time to my family. I’m quite active for my age, still out walking and jogging.

“When I found out what had happened to the bikes I was devastated. We ended up just learning about mechanics this week. I just want things to be back to normal.”

Tina Eglington, 48, said: “I’m a full-time carer for my son who has mental disabilities, so this group has been a wonderful stress reliever during the little free time I have.

“I’ve loved it. I can’t begin to tell you how much it’s changed my life. It’s become a real little community, with no judgement as we’re all in the same boat. When I heard about what happened I wanted to cry. Where can I learn now?”

Anyone looking to donate an unwanted bike to the group can contact the Cycling UK Press Office on 01483-238-315, 07786-320-713 or by emailing publicity [at] cyclinguk.org

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