The History of Alice Holt Inclusive Cycling

May 22, 2024 10:48 am Published by

Our History

The beginning.

In 2002 the Cyclists Touring Club (CTC) as it was then, set up a “Cycling for All” Centre at Alice Holt Forest to facilitate and encourage adults and children with physical and or learning difficulties to be able to cycle in the safety of Alice Holt Forest. CTC, N.E. Hampshire District Council and English Heritage all contributed to the purchase of a fleet of adapted bicycles and the Forestry Commission provided a large container for storage. At the beginning CTC funded a paid full time cycling officer who was in charge of the cycling sessions and the promotion of the venue. At that time CTC asked for volunteers to help with the running of these sessions and that is when I (Peter Jeans) became involved.

Intermediate years

Over the following years it became obvious that there were not enough clients cycling to warrant the employment of a full time cycling officer. It was decided at that point to have open sessions on Thursday mornings and this would be supported by a CTC cycling officer and the two existing volunteers. This situation carried on for a few years during which there were a variety of cycling officers from CTC running the sessions. Eventually in 2013 CTC took a back seat and handed over the repair and financial control to Quench, the permanent bike hire company working at Alice Holt. This was an unsatisfactory partnership, poor relationship between our two volunteers and Quench. Repairs and up keep of our fleet were poor so the fleet of bikes slowly deteriorated. Then CTC involvement ceased in July 2014 leaving two volunteers to run the sessions. In July 2014 matters came to a head when both volunteers were ill and the wife of one of the volunteers had to come to the rescue. At this point an appeal was made to the local cycling communities for volunteers and over the next couple of months we recruited a happy band of volunteers to help running the sessions. In August 2014 we started to charge the clients £2.50, receipts were issued, attendances recorded and an accounts spreadsheet started for accounting purposes. The money raised was used to maintain the bikes, buy spares and stationery. At the same time a bank account as opened under the name of Alice Holt Inclusive Cycling to deal with the money and pay the bills. At some point at this time we were granted a large grant from one of our client’s family. This was used to buy some new adapted bicycles but through the CTC to avoid having to pay VAT. This was fraught with difficulties and bureaucracy which started the thought that we should become a registered charity in our own right.

All through this turbulent period the Forestry Commission were supportive and allowed us to continue free of charge.

In 2015 the sessions were up and running smoothly with average attendances of 12/13 per session, our bank balance was increasing and we could maintain the fleet of bicycles and obtain insurance. In March 2015 we had enough volunteers to start a Rota of attendance on Thursdays. In 2016 we started to hold pre-booked “Special Sessions” for groups on holiday in the local area on days other than Thursdays which proved to be very successful.

Current history

In early 2019 it was decided that we should apply to the Charity Commission and become registered as a Community Integrated Organisation and this was achieved in April. 6 Trustees were appointed and regular Trustee meetings and AGM scheduled. The management of Alice Holt Inclusive Cycling now became their remit. An account system was started, policies and procedures adopted to conform to the Charity Commissions reporting requirements. Having now become a registered charity we were able to attract several large grants of money and these enabled us to purchase new adapted bicycles to replace old and worn out ones,

Our client base has grown over the years, we now have regular “Special Sessions” in the summer holidays and several special schools attend regularly during the school term. We also provide cycling for the Dementia Friendly Alton group at weekends.

Communication with our clients and volunteers is achieved via WhatsApp groups, email and our Web site.