TWO enterprising friends who went to the same school in Yorkshire are helping NHS and other essential workers secure bikes to travel safely as part of a national campaign.

Lucy Wellings, a nurse working on London’s COVID-19 hospital wards, and friend Charlotte Sumner-Bedford, are former pupils of Bradford Grammar School (BGS). The pair are running the Tour De Thanks scheme, where they encourage people to donate or lend much-needed bikes to NHS staff and other key workers.

The campaign was launched when Lucy had her bike stolen. The 28-year-old, who normally works as a paediatric and adolescent research nurse specialist at University College London Hospital, had been reassigned to a COVID ward and needed her bike to get to work.

The nurse eventually tracked down her stolen bike, which was being sold online, but the experience made her realise how reliant she and her colleagues were on bikes as safe modes of transport during the pandemic.

“When I had my bike stolen, lots of people offered to help me by either lending me or giving me a bike. It made me think there must be more people in my situation,” said Lucy, whose family still live in Addingham, and whose grandfather, Jack Sanderson, is a previous headmaster of BGS.

“A lot of people don’t have cars in London, and we’ve seen a surge in demand since lockdown restrictions have eased. NHS and other essential workers are even more worried about using public transport for their commute, so we’re in great need of bike donations.

“We’ve had people from across the country come forward and donate bikes. There’s only so much we can do, so they post their photos and we try and match people up via social media. It’s overwhelming how supportive people have been, including many from the Old Bradfordian community.”

Lucy’s school friend, Charlotte, was keen to help after being furloughed from her work as assistant manager at Albert Hall in Manchester. The friends have so far managed to secure around 40 bikes for people from across the country, including several at Lucy’s former workplace, Leeds General Infirmary. The iconic cycling brand, Brompton, has also donated 30 bikes to the cause.

Dr Simon Hinchliffe, headmaster at BGS, said: “Lucy and Charlotte have made us all proud in being able to turn Lucy’s misfortune with her bike being stolen, into something positive to help others and offering a ray of hope in difficult times. It’s great to see them working together to help others and we wish them every success with their campaign.”

To donate or lend a bike, find Tour De Thanks on Twitter and Instagram.