HUNDREDS of Wee County young people have been enjoying new-found freedom thanks to bikes donated by a good cause.

Forth Environment Link has distributed more than 220 free bicycles in Clackmannanshire since autumn 2021, in a scheme designed to transform the lives of young people.

The Bike Buddies programme, funded by the Scottish Government, has been giving the young people biking confidence, competence and equipment to make cycling part of their daily lives.

Lornshill Academy pupils Ben Williamson and Brogan Strang (pictured) have recently benefitted from the scheme and are already putting their wheels to good use.

Brogan said: “Having a bike that actually works means I can cycle to my mum’s work before school and we can go and get breakfast together.

“I am also able to go out to the woods on my bike.

“Being able to cycle to school means I can get there faster, and I feel more awake and happier when I get there.”

The scheme, which includes essential bike training and maintenance, is run in conjunction with Clackmannanshire Council, Clackmannanshire Sports Development and Recyke-a-Bike in Stirling.

Ben is also enjoying his new-found skills and freedom.

He said: “I use the bike to get to and from school every day and I’m learning new mountain bike skills with the help of Aaron from Forth Environment Link.

“My old bikes gears were broken, so this bike allows me to go faster and further.”

Jodie Hutton from Forth Environment Link has spoken of her “absolute joy” at being able to give young people access to a bike and seeing their confidence grow.

“To see the P7 pupils continue to use their bike to get to secondary school is tremendous,” she said.

“Making the school run more environmentally friendly and more enjoyable.”

Forth Environment Link has also been operating a similar scheme with fellow charity Barnardo’s, giving disadvantaged young people their own bike – some for the very first time.

Gearing Up has helped a further 30 children in Clackmannanshire, changing their lives for the better.

Ian Morris, project worker for Barnado’s, added: “The Gearing Up Cycling Programme has been an excellent initiative for the young people that are supported by our service and that have participated in it.

“Many of the young people that we support struggle with issues around anxiety, a lack of self-confidence and self-belief.

“Participating in Gearing Up has helped address many of those issues and at the same time allowed them to develop new friendships, commit to and engage in pro-social activity.

“We are also seeing evidence that following participation in the programme many of our young people are cycling much more.

“We look forward to developing this programme further with Forth Environment Link in 2023.”