An organisation from South London that helps get children and adults cycling has scooped an environmental award and will see its profile raised higher still when it is featured on BBC One’s Sport Relief.
Pedal4Health, based in Wandsworth, last month won a Green Business Award from Wandsworth Borough Council in the Green Project/Group category. The award was presented in front of 400 guests by TV chef Oliver Rowe during the Wandsworth Green & Heartbeat Awards at the Pestana Chelsea Bridge Hotel in Battersea.
Founded in 2007 by Fred Ellis, the organisation, which is supported by the London Cycling Campaign, also operates in the neighbouring boroughs of Kingston, Sutton, Epsom & Ewell and Merton, providing cycling training with a focus on health and fitness for children and adults alike, including Bikeability training. It also runs weekly classes on behalf of Wandsworth NHS Primary Care Trust.
Pedal4Health benefits from Sport Relief funding, and recently received a visit from comedian Russell Howard, one of the team of celebrities that this week rode from John O’Groats to Land’s End and raised £1 million for good causes, who was filming a segment to be included on BBC One during Sport Relief week later this month.
Earlier this week, the Bath-born comedian told the website thisisbristol.co.uk of his experience of seeing how money from Sport Relief had helped Pedal4Health in action, saying: "I was lucky enough to see an example of where the money goes. There's a place called Merton in South London, and they have a bike scheme for young carers. These are young kids who have to look after parents or relatives with disabilities. They lead really difficult, adult lives.
"I went down when it was half term and they had put on a bike club for these kids. They were riding around on adventure courses and having a great time haring around and spraying each other with mud. It was a really cool thing to see,” he continued.
"These kids are about 11 and they have all this responsibility – if you had a fairly idyllic childhood, like I did, it's hard to comprehend.
"But it was really funny actually, because you treat them like these little angels when at the heart of it they're still 11-year-old kids. It made me laugh when they saw a policeman walking past and said 'Oi oi, it's the filth'!
"I told them that if you're a pregnant woman and you need to pee, you are legally allowed to do it into a policeman's helmet. Well, they loved that!"
Pedal4Health is also organising a series of Sunday afternoon family bike rides along the Wandle Trail to tie in with Sport Relief, open to anyone aged eight and above. The three rides take place on the 7th, 14th and 21st of March, and all start at 3pm from Deen City Farm, 39 Windsor Avenue, London, SW19 2RR.
Cycling instructors will be on hand to give tips on improving bike handling skills, and the rides finish at the farm, giving children the chance to pet the animals there or visit the café.
For those who want to learn to ride, the organisation is providing free lessons on the same dates between 10am and 12 noon, and anyone wanting to benefit from those is asked to contact Pedal4Health by phoning 020 8393 7724 or sending an email to fred [at] pedal4health.co.uk or anne [at] pedal4health.co.uk. Free loan bikes are also available thanks to funding from Playsport London.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.