Diabetes UK, the British Heart Foundation (BHF) and Tesco are working together to help people in Derry get active

One of the UK’s biggest charity partnerships is encouraging families in Derry to get pedalling this Bike Week (10–18 June) to help improve their health.

The National Charity Partnership between Diabetes UK, the British Heart Foundation (BHF) and Tesco funds cycling programmes, events and bike hire in Derry and Castlederg as part of its work to encourage people to lead healthier lifestyles.

Now, the partnership is encouraging residents to make the most of their free, local cycling programmes and cycle events allowing them to get active with their families this summer.

Michael Connolly, 42, from Castlederg trained to become a cycle leader last year to deliver the local cycling programme.

“I generally try to maintain an active lifestyle,” said Michael. “But I hadn’t ridden a bike in over twenty years until this programme was set up.

“I soon realised the fun aspect – there is no better feeling than the adrenalin rushing through you when riding down a hill.”

Now, thanks to funding from the National Charity Partnership, they have more than a dozen bicycles at the local Healthy Living Centre in Castlederg.

“I am inspired by the achievements of residents who attend the cycling programme,” added Michael. “It is great to see their progress each week and know that they are taking small steps to a healthier lifestyle.

“Some participants have enjoyed the cycling programmes so much they even have purchased their own bicycles.”

One of those participants is Laura Hamilton, 43, from Castlederg (pictured). She joined the cycle programme earlier this year after she became determined to improve her fitness levels.

“I absolutely love the cycle programme in Castlederg,” said Laura, “I have made lots of new friends and I now cycle with them three times a week. I don’t like to miss a session because I would feel as though I would be missing out!”

She added: “I have already lost over one stone in weight and I feel so much happier and healthier. I am incredibly thankful to the support from our cycle leader, Michael – he encourages me to keep going. It is all about taking small steps at your own pace and I already feel as though I have achieved so much.”

The next family cycle event will take place on Saturday 10 June at Long Tower Youth Club in Derry where a ‘Bike Doctor’ will be on hand to repair broken bikes and residents are encouraged to take part in various cycle routes for all abilities.

The National Charity Partnership is hoping that by helping people become more active, it will reduce their risk of Type 2 diabetes and heart and circulatory disease. Millions of people currently live with these conditions and millions more are at risk, but they are largely preventable.

Matthew McKee, prevention programme manager for the National Charity Partnership, said: “We know that being physically active can reduce the likelihood of people developing Type 2 diabetes and heart and circulatory disease as well as being a lot of fun. We hope these cycling programmes will show more people how cycling can easily be part of everyday life and how small lifestyle changes can make a big difference to your long-term health.”

Bike Week is an opportunity to promote cycling, and show how cycling can easily be part of everyday life. To find out more about the cycling programmes, events and bike hire in Derry and Castlederg, visit www.lets-dothis.org.uk.

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