Press release -
Thameslink and council partners restore abandoned bikes for Biggleswade NHS key workers
Three delighted NHS staff at Biggleswade Hospital are now enjoying free bicycles, thanks to a partnership scheme between rail company Thameslink, Luton and Central Bedfordshire Councils to renovate abandoned bikes and donate them to key workers.
The project is one of a series of activities being run by Thameslink to support staff, passengers and local communities. The aim was to help hospital staff get to and from work while maintaining social distancing and getting some valuable extra exercise.
The renovated bikes were matched with specific workers who will really benefit from them, and presented yesterday [Tuesday 7 July] at the hospital.
Tracy Brewer-Reeves, who works for the hospital's Mental Health Unit, said: “I’m super-excited to receive my recycled bicycle. As an employment specialist I am based within the community, working alongside individuals who are seeking their first steps into employment.
“A bicycle will enable me to get around Biggleswade and Potton to maintain one-to-one appointments with service users, and to engage with local employers and charities to develop our service.”
Tracy’s colleague, administrator Claire Tabb, said: “I think this is a great initiative – I’m very grateful that I have been the lucky recipient of a bike that I will be using to travel to and from work, not only saving fuel and the environment but also hopefully keeping me fit and healthy.”
Social worker Ria Cameron said: “Sadly I had never learnt how to ride a bike but always wanted to. With this bike I can learn to ride at last and then use it to cycle to work, which will save money on travel and provide me with daily exercise.”
Thameslink and Luton Council both picked out the machines in best condition from their stocks of abandoned bikes. The mechanics at the council’s long-standing recycling scheme inspected and overhauled the bikes as necessary to ensure they were in safe, roadworthy order.
Around 30 bikes were divided between staff at Luton and Dunstable University Hospital and Bedford Hospital, and six were earmarked, with Central Bedfordshire Council’s help, for staff at the smaller Biggleswade Hospital. Three of these are now with their new owners.
Tom Moran, Managing Director for Thameslink and Great Northern, said: “It’s fantastic working with our partners to support Bedfordshire hospital staff at this challenging time. As key workers ourselves, we’re proud to be supporting NHS staff in the communities we serve.
“At a time of great national challenge, we are proud to help keep Britain moving by supporting everyone who still needs to travel by rail, and to play our part in National Bike Month. Now, more than ever, is a time when we all need good neighbours, to stay connected, and help each other out.”
Cllr Paul Castleman, Luton Council’s portfolio holder responsible for transport, said: “We continue to be extremely grateful to NHS staff for the vital work they carry out and are pleased to see how much the bikes are benefiting them on their daily journeys to and from work, whilst allowing them to maintain social distancing. Cycling has many health and wellbeing benefits which are more important now than ever, and helps to meet our commitment to tackle climate change.
“Our recycling scheme team of mechanics have worked diligently over the past few weeks to refurbish and restore the bikes to a safe and roadworthy condition, ready to be used by our hard-working key workers. It‘s been rewarding working with GTR on this fantastic initiative and being able to give something back to hospital staff who have done - and continue to do - so much for us.”
Councillor Steven Watkins, Deputy Executive Director of Community Services for Central Bedfordshire Council, said: “It’s really amazing that our bike recycling scheme is helping to transform the lives of key NHS workers, who have done - and continue to do - so much for us during this time of crisis. We want to do all we can to support them to get to and from work, and to visit patients in the community, whilst also to getting some valuable exercise.”
“Riding a bike has so many benefits for our physical and mental health. It helps combat stress and anxiety. It’s great daily exercise and is the best mode of transport to maintain social distancing and avoid congestion.”
Notes to editors
Thameslink collects a steady stream of bikes abandoned at stations, many in surprisingly good condition, and normally sells those that are unclaimed and too good to scrap at periodic auctions, with proceeds going to local charities, but restrictions because of Covid-19 prevent this.
The Community Mental Health Team at Biggleswade Hospital provides mental health services for working age adults.
Govia Thameslink Railway
Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) operates Thameslink, Great Northern, Southern and Gatwick Express services as follows:
- Thameslink – cross-London services between Bedford/Peterborough/Cambridge and Brighton/Horsham/Littlehampton/East Grinstead, and between Luton/St Albans and Sutton/Wimbledon/Rainham; plus services between London and Sevenoaks
- Great Northern – services between London and Welwyn, Hertford, Peterborough, Cambridge and King’s Lynn
- Southern – services between London and the Sussex coast (Brighton, Worthing, Eastbourne, Bognor Regis, Hastings) and parts of Surrey, Kent and Hampshire (Ashford International, Southampton, Portsmouth)
- Gatwick Express – fast, non-stop direct services between Gatwick Airport and London Victoria