Cash-strapped hospice gets on its bike to raise funds

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A cash-strapped community hospice which has had its fund-raising events decimated by the Covid-19 pandemic is holding a bumper bike sale this Saturday to boost its coffers.

Managers of St Kentigern Hospice, which provides palliative care for people in Conwy, Denbighshire and Flintshire, have been bowled over by the generosity of the public who have donated more than a hundred unwanted bikes to be sold off.

Jim O’Toole, Chairman of St Kentigern Hospice board of directors, came up with the idea of launching an appeal for second-hand bikes to be sold off in aid of the hospice funds in the run-up to Christmas.

But even he has been overwhelmed by the response from the local community who have rallied behind the cause big time.

He said: “We really can’t believe the response we’ve had to our appeal after it was publicised on social media.

“I’m heartened to think of the generosity of all those who donated so kindly. We’ve already received 116 bikes and are expecting four more over the next couple of days, taking the total so far up to 120.

“But the appeal is ongoing and I wouldn’t’ be surprised if even more bikes come in for us to sell.”

People can donate bikes at the Port of Mostyn, Coast Road, Holywell, Flintshire, offices any time up until and including Friday, December 18.

The sale itself will be held at the Port of Mostyn car park site on Saturday, December 19 from 10am until 2pm.

Jim, who is managing director at Port of Mostyn, also thanked members of his staff who have volunteered to help run the sale and act as stewards on the day.

He said: “The whole event will abide by social distancing rules. There is plenty of space here so people will be able to keep well apart and masks will be worn.

“The bikes will be sold as seen, but, from those I have looked at, most are in good running order. Some may require minor repairs or adjustments but people will be able to see that for themselves on the day.”

All proceeds will go directly to the St Asaph-based St Kentigern Hospice which has had its annual fundraising activities severely hampered by the impact of lockdowns and social distancing restrictions caused by the Coronavirus pandemic.

The hospice provides specialist palliative care and residential care and support for seriously ill patients and their families. It covers the communities of Denbighshire, West Flintshire and East Conwy and each year helps about 500 people affected by life-limiting illness.

Just before the pandemic struck it opened a 930 square feet extension, increasing residential beds from eight to 12. The board dipped into financial reserves to help pay for the extension and is now working hard to rebuild funds.

Maintaining services costs about £1.4 million a year – £4,000 a day. But much of the public fundraising which helps it meet these costs has been cancelled during 2020.

Jim said: “This time of year would normally be among our busiest in terms of local community fundraising, with various festive events going on, from raffles and charity auctions to social balls and Christmas sales all in aid of the hospice.

“But all these have had to be cancelled due to Covid-19 safety restrictions. We have also had to close all 12 of our charity shops and we’re still reeling from the impact of the first lockdown which resulted in the cancellation of many summer events, such as golf tournaments and summer fairs.

“We’re one of many hospices across the country who are struggling to think of new ways to bolster our finances so we can continue to provide the invaluable services we’ve been offering our community over the last 25 years.”

That’s why Jim turned to pedal power to push forward fundraising. He came up with the innovative idea of the bike sale after hearing on the news that new bikes are in short supply.

He said: “Demand for new bikes is soaring and there are long waiting lists at the big store bike sellers as manufacturers cannot make them fast enough to meet the demand from the public. That’s why I came up with the idea of selling second-hand bikes. There are many people who have bikes in good condition which they no longer use or children’s bikes which the kids have outgrown. This sale ticks all the boxes in terms of helping people find a bike they want at a reasonable price, recycling unused bikes and supporting a good cause at the same time.

“Some bikes are in better condition than others – some are almost new, while others may have a few scratches here and there. We’ll be asking people to make us a fair and reasonable offer for each bike on the day.”

A wide range of bikes of different models and sizes have been donated, including one or two which are like new.

Jim said: “One modern bike has come all the way from Saint Albans, still in its box and hardly ever used as the owner suffered a health issue  shortly after having bought it. At the other end of the scale we have a classic ladies’ bike which is 60 years old. It’s an old Raleigh style, lovely looking.

“We have children’s bikes and adult bikes, men’s and women’s designs. All sorts of models from racers to off-roaders. We’ve simply been inundated. I never imagined when I thought of the idea that we would receive so many donations and I want to say a huge thank you to everyone.”

Any bicycles which are not sold will be saved for a possible future sale in the New Year.

Saturday’s sale is cash only, with on day collection of sold bikes and all are sold as seen. The sale begins at 10am at Port of Mostyn, Coast Road, Holywell, CH8 9HE.