A CYCLING school for disabled youngsters has had its bikes stolen.
The On Side project, run by the Reigate and Redhill YMCA, has helped more than 100 youngsters with both physical and learning disabilities to learn to ride.
But on Monday morning, the scheme's co-ordinator John Brunswick received a devastating call from a member of the public at Earlswood Lakes – where the scheme is run and the bikes are stored.
The woman, who knows Mr Brunswick runs the cycling classes, said she had seen bicycle helmets and bike tyre tubes around the area.
Arriving at the lock-up where the bikes were stored, Mr Brunswick discovered thieves had broken in and stolen the eight bicycles used to teach the young students. The are estimated to be worth £5,000.
Mr Brunswick said: "I am absolutely devastated, not just for me but for the guys who use them and love using them so much."
The scheme has been running for more than 18 months at Earlswood Lakes, where youngsters – many of whom have never cycled before – are taught to ride.
Once the riders become more confident, the group holds longer day rides and over-night trips to let them hone and use their newfound skills.
Mr Brunswick and his colleagues had even hoped to link up with the Special Olympics – a sports organisation arranging competitions for people with learning disabilities.
But all these plans have been brought to a halt after the thieves left the charitable scheme with no serviceable bikes.
Mr Brunswick told the Mirror: "We had bikes which the guys were using to ride and they took all of them. We do also fix up bikes and there were some dilapidated bikes in the store but we can't use any of them."
He added: "We need any help we can get, donations, help or support to get this project going again."
It is the second time the project has been hit; last year four bikes were stolen from the YMCA's Sovereign Centre. They were never recovered.
This time, police believe the thieves broke into the lock-up some time between last Wednesdayand Monday and took the eight bikes, two of which are bright orange in colour.
Call Surrey Police on 101 with information. If you can help Mr Brunswick get the scheme going again, call the YMCA on 01737 779979.