Chris Boardman opens cycle storage unit at Countess of Chester Hospital
Olympic gold medal cyclist Chris Boardman, MBE, has opened a new cycle storage unit for Countess of Chester Hospital staff as the Trust launched its sustainable travel strategy.
Boardman, who is currently leading government body Active Travel England to create safer streets for cycling and walking, cut the ribbon on the new secure space for staff to lock up their bikes complete with adjacent changing facilities to use before and after travelling to work.
The secured storage unit, which has 40 spaces for bikes, was made possible by a grant to the Countess Charity from NHS Charities Together, using donations from during the pandemic to improve the health and wellbeing of NHS staff.
Boardman, the National Active Travel Commissioner, said: “Cycling to work or to hospital appointments is a fantastic way to save some money and look after your mental and physical health, so it’s great to see the effort that the Countess of Chester Hospital has put into making it easier for NHS workers to get to and from the site under their own steam. I enjoyed visiting and seeing the facilities in person.”
The Countess of Chester Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, like all NHS organisations, is working towards the national ‘Net Zero’ target, aiming to reduce emissions by 47% from 2019/20 levels by 2028-2032.
As part of that, the Trust’s new sustainable travel strategy will aim to make it easier for staff, patients and visitors to access the hospital via eco-friendly travel methods going forward.
Cara Williams, Executive Sustainability Ambassador at the Countess, said: “This is a really exciting moment for us as a Trust and our sustainability journey. We are delighted to welcome Chris to formally open these facilities and launch our strategy which we hope will encourage more of our staff to cycle, run or walk into work. I know Chris is a strong advocate of both the environmental and health benefits of active travel and that is something we are also extremely passionate about for our staff, our patients and our local community. Our ‘We’re going greener’ initiative will hopefully become more recognisable and make an increasing difference to all those groups over the next few years.
“I would like to also thank everyone who came along to support the event today, including the Chester Cycling Campaign, Bren Bikes, Chester Zoo, Chester Live and Cheshire Police and of course all our teams who made it possible.”
During the pandemic, NHS Charities Together co-ordinated donations from fundraisers all over the country for the NHS, including Captain Tom Moore, Joe Wicks, Premier League footballers and thousands of others.
The Countess Charity applied for and was given a grant from this funding to pay for the new cycle storage unit.
Lesley Woodhead, Head of Fundraising at the Countess, said: “Colleagues have told me what a difference these new facilities will make to them. Many use the ride in and home as their own time for exercise and to lose the worries of the day before they get home. We are very grateful to everyone that made a donation to NHS Charities Together that allowed us to provide this unit for staff. Thank you.”
As well as the storage unit and the changing facilities being formally opened, the event also gave hospital staff an opportunity to meet local businesses and groups offering bike maintenance advice and tips about other travel methods.
Cheshire Police were also in attendance, marking bikes to make them more secure, while representatives from Chester Zoo were on hand to talk about their conservation work and the sustainable steps anyone can take.
Dr James Redfern, Cardiologist at the Countess, who has been cycling into work at the hospital for the last three months, said: “I started cycling in from the Wirral because with fuel prices going up and me not having a lot of time to cycle for fun it was a good opportunity to get on my bike for half an hour and get fitter at the same time. Cycling to work needs to be made easier to encourage people to do it which is why this is really positive, especially with it also being a secure space for bikes to be stored.”