Pedal power with a difference is helping a young boy do what he thought he would never be able to do – ride a bike.
Many take it for granted, but 11-year-old Tommy Andrews of Cottesloe has mitochondrial disease, a debilitating condition that causes delayed physical development, loss of muscle coordination and muscle weakness. As a toddler Tommy simply didn’t have the strength or coordination to ride, unlike his sporty twin sister, Dimity.
But an article in The Post about another youngster, Charlotte Braden, who needed help with her wheels inspired close family friend Janet Birtwistle to contact the Mosman Park Community Men’s Shed whose members got Charlotte on the road in style.
“I contacted the Shed and there were amazingly supportive,” said Janet. All Tommy wanted was to be able to ride a bike like his sister.
Ready to help was former London Double Decker Bus driver Tony Willerton-Lowe, an expert welder. Taking time out from caring for his disabled wife, Mr Willerton-Lowe fitted special training wheels and a push handle, for when Tommy gets tired, to Tommy’s Captain America bike.
“It was no bother,” said Mr Willerton-Lowe. “I first learnt to weld over 50 years ago so it was simple process to give Tommy his freedom.”
Tommy loved the bike so much he dropped into the Shed with a donation and a box of choccies to say ‘thank you’.
"It’s great," said Tommy. "I will soon be able to catch up with my sister.”
“Tommy never had the strength or coordination to ride a bicycle before so the blokes at the Men’s Shed are true marvels,” said Janet.
The Mosman Park Community Men’s Shed was made possible by a Lotterywest grant of over $700,000 which supported shed construction. The Shed, supported by the Rotary Club of Mosman Park provides support and resources to encourage men to take an interest in their own health and wellbeing by making a valuable contribution to their community.
If you have a story to tell about your grant, please contact us as we’d love to hear from you. Contact the Lotterywest Grants Communications team. Grants.Communications@lotterywest.wa.gov.au