Secondary school gets Specialized treatment

St Philips  School

Pupils at St Philips School in Chessington, Kingston, were given a Specialized treatment when they were invited to look round the showroom at the UK Headquarters of the American bike manufacturer.

The invitation was prompted by the purchase of ten Specialized bikes for the school with funding from The Big Lottery (BIG) and the Community Cycling Fund for London (CCfL) which are both administered by the LCC.

St Philips School, which caters for pupils with moderate learning difficulties, applied for funding in order to start a cycle project tailored to the varied needs of the students.

When teaching assistant Gaye Coxon mentioned the project to her son Blake who works for Specialized, he put her in touch with the marketing team who agreed to let the school buy the bikes directly from the manufacturer.
Blake says, ‘I spoke to Anne the marketing manager and we invited St Philips over.’

‘I think they’ve enjoyed it, and I think it’s brilliant that LCC is trying to get schools like St. Philips involved with cycling. This offers the kids a chance of independence that they might not otherwise get if they are unable to learn to drive.’

According Christian, to one of the pupils, the short trip was definitely worth the effort.

'It was only round the corner on the bus and my friend thought we were going somewhere else but I knew we were coming to see bikes. It’s wicked in here – all these bikes. I really like this one with the white front bits and the shiney red. I want a bike like this and I want to ride it.'

Classmate Luke was equally enthusiastic:

‘These bikes are great and our school is getting some and we’re all going to learn to ride them.’

Even Dan who has a bike of his own liked the Specialized bikes:

‘When I came in I saw all of them (the showroom bikes) but I’ve got a bike so I didn’t look, but these are much better than mine. I like the black ones and I like the red ones, and I like the white ones too. Actually, I like them all.’

Official handover of bikes by Specialized team

Back at the school, two bikes were formally handed over to the pupils and PE teacher Neil Mears by Specialized marketing manager Anne Immelman, and Blake Coxon.

Anne explained why Specialized were keen to help:

‘We do support two regular charities, but we were keen to support St Philips School because it is so close to us, there is a direct contact through Blake and we really liked the idea that the St Philips children were doing something so positive with cycling.’

‘They had already worked hard to get the funding and so we were happy to help them get the best that they could with the money that they had.’

For project leader Neil Mears, the arrival of the bikes marked the real start of the project, although he has been working on it for several months:

‘There’s been quite a bit of planning but getting the bikes today is great. You can see what it means to them (the pupils); it’s instant! Just look at their faces – they’re all delighted and on them instantly. And that includes the kids who wouldn’t normally do anything like this. It’s immediate inclusion. Brilliant!’

Head teacher Jude Bowen summed up what it means for the school:

‘We’re very grateful to the CCfL and especially the Big Lottery for their generous financial support. The collaboration between Belinda from LCC, Neil from St Philips, and Blake from Specialized Customer has made the school the proud owner of ten brand new, hand crafted bikes and safety helmets. These resources will greatly enhance the opportunities for physical activities that the school can offer its young people.’

Fact file

Name: Cycling to keep fit – St Philips School
Purpose: cycling for children with moderate to sever learning difficulties
Awarded £5,000 from the Community Cycling Fund for London and the Big Lottery in 2009.
Activities: maintenance workshops and cycle training