CHILDREN from disadvantaged families across the city will be waking up to shiny new bikes on Christmas morning after the efforts of students at University Technical College Portsmouth.
Kind-hearted engineering students have restored donated bikes as part of the College’s Recycle a Cycle project. The bikes have been given to the charity, Stop Domestic Abuse, where they will provide surprise Christmas presents for children who may have suffered violence.
Charity representative Sue Ward said: ‘The bikes look amazing – as good as new. We work with families who may be in refuges and with children who may have suffered violence. These families simply wouldn’t be able to afford to buy a bike for Christmas. These bikes will mean so much. It is as much for the parents who will now get to see the reaction of their children on Christmas morning.’
The project was a student-led initiative with the charity selected by the pupils themselves. The idea was put forward by 15-year-old Year 11 student Georgina Price.
‘I came up with the idea after talking about the charity with my mum. The bikes are aimed at seven and eight-year-olds and it makes me feel really good that it is going to make someone really happy on Christmas morning,’ said Georgina.
Engineering teacher and project coordinator Katy Le Gris added: ‘What is so special is that this is a local charity and the students feel they are doing something which benefits the community.’
Many of the bikes originally arrived in poor condition and had to be stripped and fitted with new parts.
Year 11 student, Nathan Burman, 16, said: ‘Some of the bikes needed to be totally reworked. We had to replace chains, brakes and fit new headset bearings in the handlebars.’
The initiative quickly gathered momentum with Southsea Cycles providing parts for the bikes and providing full safety checks. Operations manager and bike mechanic, Mike Evans, has been attending the college to support students with the project.
‘We are a local bike shop and so it seemed natural to become involved in this community project. It was great to pass on my knowledge to the students and it is really heartwarming to support such a worthy charity and to think of the pleasure the bikes will bring at Christmas,’ explained Mike.
Accident repair company Apollo Motor Group has also become involved and has allowed students to use a garage and machinery to spray paint the bikes.
Annabelle Bench-Elphick from Stop Domestic Abuse said: ‘What the students have done is incredible and it must give them a tremendous sense of accomplishment in having done something so worthwhile.’
Student, Austin Jeffrey, 15, added: ‘I really enjoyed the project and it was great to do something for such a great cause.’
All those involved hope to see bike restoration become a permanent project.