Last year Brompton Bike Hire approached St Barts Hospital and NHS London to provide bikes for their front-line staff who wished to avoid being crammed onto buses and trains during the Coronavirus crisis. As word rapidly spread, over 500 NHS staff registered for the free rental scheme, quickly depleting their hire fleet. Even though there weren’t enough bikes, interest continued to grow, and it was time to take action.
Julian Scriven the Managing director of Brompton Bike Hire said “We never actually sat down and formally decided to launch a campaign as such, it was more a case of a small good deed mushrooming into probably the largest cycling campaign of 2020. The Wheels for Heroes initiative actually started out with a loan offer to one of our members at St Barts Hospital Trust. Two bikes turned into ten, ten into a hundred and before we knew it we had over 3,000 NHS key workers registered with us to borrow a bike. Rather than disappoint these hard workers, we went on to build over 700 bikes specifically for this initiative. These bikes were funded by charitable donations from the public, the places to ride fund and partially funded by Brompton Bicycle. From day one we have been committed that the story shouldn’t end with Covid-19. We will be using these bikes to create a change in people’s travel habits across the nation and have set up key partnerships to help us achieve our goals.”
Brompton wanted to provide more bikes to key workers, and so the decision was made to commit a production capacity of £100,000 and create ‘Wheels for Heroes’, a Crowdfunder campaign to fund bikes for NHS staff, both during the crisis and beyond. The overwhelming amount of support was amazing and inspiring. By the end an astonishing £318,000 was raised by 1,815 incredible individual supporters and generous donations from industry, and organisations. As a result Brompton were able to manufacture over 700 of their folding bikes for NHS staff.
The grandson of John Purnell is a Brompton engineer. John solicited support and donations from other London Freemasons and through their efforts and that of the London Freemasons Charity they contributed £4600.
Brompton CEO Will Butler-Adams rewarded donors with varying tokens of thanks. Those who donated over £250 were able to name a bike – some chose to name bikes after themselves, others commemorated special people in their lives, whilst many chose to name their bikes after doctors and nurses currently working in the NHS, and some got even more creative – one bike being named after a Woody Guthrie lyric written about his nurse, “Your smile cured me”. A number of bikes were named after Local Freemasons Lodges, such as Salvus Securus, Manor of St. James, and Duke of Edinburgh Lodge.
Each personalised bike has the name engraved on the serial plate on the mainframe, as well as their name having a permanent place on an honorary wall in the Brompton factory.
Tony Shields, of London Freemasons said “This is a hugely important local project, giving access to cycles for our frontline NHS staff during the pandemic. I’m proud that London Masons are able to assist during this difficult time. I congratulate everyone involved in this magnificent local project and trust that this will continue to provide healthy sustainable transport now and well into the future. This grant follows on from a recent £2.5 Million grant to fund two ultra-high aerial platforms and earlier generous donations of £3 million to St Barts hospital for the purchase of a Cyberknife and £2 million towards the second London Air Ambulance, all of which contribute to saving lives right across this great capital city.”