Norfolk mechanic’s bike donation to help some of Africa’s poorest

Paul Riches with the bikes

Paul Riches with the bikes - Credit: Archant

A mechanic has donated more than 100 bicycles to people living in some of the poorest parts of Africa.

Paul Riches with the bikes

Paul Riches with the bikes - Credit: Archant

Paul Riches has been restoring second-hand bikes for more than 16 years from his garage in Bracon Ash, near Wymondham.

And on Monday he handed over a large part of his collection to the charity Re-Cycle for children and farm labourers living in Africa.

The 54-year-old said he was inspired to donate the bikes by his daughter Georgia, who is currently working on the continent.

He said: 'She is working at a school in Africa and I thought where can I find somewhere nice to send these bikes to? So it seemed like sending them over there would be a good idea.

'As you can see I have more bikes than I need here, and it is really great knowing they will be sent to help people who need them.'

His donation of mountain, road and children's bikes will be shipped out next week to the village of Madina Salam in Gambia.

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It is being organised through the Colchester-based charity Re-Cycle, which provides bikes to communities in rural Africa.

Derek Balcombe, operations manager, said: 'We get bikes donated in ones and twos, sometimes even a dozen, but to get 100 is fantastic.

'They are a vital mode of transport in rural Africa, because a journey that might take an hour-and-a-half by foot will only take 30 minutes.'

A total of 500 bikes will be sent out from Felixstowe next week and are due to arrive in Africa on April 14.

They will then be handed over to a bike workshop for any repairs before being distributed to the wider community.

Mr Riches, who owns Bracon Ash Garage, has collected more than 500 second-bikes that he restores and sells.

Through his work he has raised £50,000 for the East Anglia Children's Hospice and £7,500 for Nelson's Journey.

Are you organising a charity event? Call Luke Powell on 01603 772684

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