'Be-spoke' workshop for cycling mad students 

A bespoke workshop at Larkmead School in Abingdon was officially opened by Mr Chris Harris, the school’s head teacher, offering students at the school the chance to learn all about bicycles and cycling in a hands-on environment.

The brand new £12,500 bike-shed workshop was built from scratch thanks to the support of Sovereign Housing Association. The organisation called upon its suppliers Jeffway Electrical, Travis Perkins, Hirebase, Edmundsons, Jeff Way Electrical Services and PMS, to donate materials, labour and expertise to get the project off the ground.

To kick the project off, 10 bikes were donated to the school by local people and teachers, both for refurbishment and parts, following a campaign on Facebook.

Once the bikes have been refurbished, some students will be given the opportunity to take their revamped vehicles home with them.

Andy Barber, School Inclusion Coordinator, and Vocational Studies teacher at Larkmead, said: “We needed a space where students could learn from practical experience and we were thrilled when Sovereign offered to help, creating this amazing new space for us.

“The ability to refurbish, service and maintain a bike is a truly valuable skill. We’re aiming to have a vocational qualification up and running in the near future so that students who have otherwise disengaged with learning have a lasting qualification that could support future employment prospects.”

As well as offering practical classes, the bike maintenance project will also support other members of the school, local community and environment.

Andy continued: “We’ll offer students who already ride to school the chance to get their bike serviced and maintained at a reasonable rate, making them safer road users. Safer bikes might also offer an opportunity for our young people to earn some money by doing a paper round.”

Rachel Peters, Sovereign Community Development Officer, said: “This has been a great project, which shows what can be achieved when we collaborate with our partners and bring them together with the local community.”

In the longer term, surplus refurbed bikes will be available to support local families and people in the community, with donations raised reinvested into the project.