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Issue 339 – New venture raises over £40,000 in just six days

A Frome duo have raised over £40,000 in pledges in just six days to set up a new venture. The Bicycle Academy will teach people how to build bike frames, with their first model being donated to charity in Africa.

The academy will consist of a workshop where people can pay to book slots and use a range of special equipment to build bike frames. The first frame that they build will be donated to Africa, where for many people, bikes are a lifeline that make it possible to get food, water, work or an education.
Cobble Wobble chief Andrew Denham and master bicycle frame builder Brian Curtis, utilised ‘crowd-funding’, a method of securing small amounts of money from a large amount of people, to launch the project.
“It’s amazing that we raised £40,000 in just six days through pledges,” said Andrew. “I think we managed it because there is not a frame building workshop like this anywhere in the country. We have received national and international coverage, with pledges coming as far as Singapore, Norway, France and Austria!
“On Tuesday (1st November) there were over 400 unique posts on Twitter, mentioning The Bicycle Academy, so a huge thank you to those who supported us. The funds will be collected over a six-week period, with plans to open the workshop in February 2012, and the first shipment of bicycles to Africa by early summer.
“Also just a thank you to Brian, for trusting me in this venture. Even with the total raised, we are still encouraging people to pledge, as the funding will help secure more equipment for the workshop.
“I first got the idea for the Bicycle Academy when I was looking into building a comedy bike for the Cobble Wobble. I started looking at frame building and realised how expensive and specialised it is.
“At the heart of The Bicycle Academy is an important balance of give and take. Once graduated, students will be able to use the workshop to build their own frames, at their own pace, as and when they want to. So instead of putting all of your energy and first-time anxiety into one frame, you can build it knowing that it will be the first of many and give it away knowing that it will help to change someone’s life in Africa.”
Andrew and Brian have set up a webpage at peoplefund.it, which rewards pledgers for their contribution.
At the time of print, the duo have secured £40,530 in pledges. The amount you pledge will determine a reward that you will receive, with £20 securing a t-shirt and £2,000 securing a three-speed bike. Andrew commented that if the target had not been met, The Bicycle Academy would not have got off the ground.
“For us, it was all or nothing,” said Andrew. “Every student who takes a course with The Bicycle Academy will build one of these frames which will then be made into a working bicycle before being distributed to those in need via partnering charities.
“Together with the charity re~cycle The Bicycle Academy has started work on the design of a standard bicycle frame specifically for use in Africa.”
Brian, who is Frome-based, will be teaching the frame building. He has 47 years’ experience constructing bicycle frames as well as motorcycle frames in the 1960s and competition BMXs in the 1980s. In addition to steel frame building, The Bicycle Academy will also provide wheel building and mechanics courses, all held at their fully equipped workshop.
Brian said, “In addition to the courses and workshop hire, we’ll offer jig building kits, a library with every frame building book you can think of and we’ll sell materials and consumables in small quantities to order.”
• You can still pledge your support to The Bicycle Academy by visiting www.peoplefund.it/the-bicycle-academy.

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