Wheels for Heroes receives a 3000 grant from the London Freemasons Charity

W Bro John Purnell reports 

On 16 March 2020, Brompton Bike Hire approached St. Bart’s Hospital and NHS London to provide bikes for their front-line staff who wished to avoid being crammed onto buses and trains during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

As word rapidly spread, over 500 NHS staff registered for the free rental scheme, quickly depleting the hire fleet. Even though there weren’t enough bikes, interest continued to grow and it was time to take action.  Brompton wanted to provide more bikes to key workers and so the decision was made to commit a production capacity of £100,000 and create ‘Wheels for Heroes’ – a Crowdfunded campaign to fund bikes for NHS staff, both during the crisis and beyond.  

The overwhelming amount of support was amazing and inspiring. By the end of the month-long campaign, an astonishing £318,000 was raised by 1,815 incredible individual supporters and generous donations from industry and organisations.  As a result, Brompton was able to manufacture over 700 of their folding bikes for NHS staff. 

The grandson of W Bro John Purnell of Salvus Securus Lodge is a Brompton engineer.  John solicited support and donations from his and a few other London Lodges, and they contributed £1,600. In addition, sponsored by Former Assistant Metropolitan Grand Master, VW Bro Philip Summers, the London Freemason’s Charity donated £3,000.  

Brompton CEO, Will Butler-Adams, rewarded donors with varying tokens of thanks. Those who donated over £250 were able to name a bike – some chose to name bikes after themselves, others commemorated special people in their lives, whilst many chose to name their bikes after doctors and nurses currently working in the NHS. Some got even more creative – one bike being named after a Woody Guthrie lyric written about his nurse, “Your smile cured me”.  A number of bikes were named after Lodges, such as Salvus Securus, Manor of St. James and Duke of Edinburgh Lodge. 


Each personalised bike has the name engraved on the serial plate on the mainframe, as well as its name having a permanent place on an honorary wall in the Brompton factory. 

Julian Scriven the Managing director of Brompton Bike Hire said, ‘We never actually sat down and formally decided to launch a campaign as such, it was more a case of a small, good deed mushrooming into probably the largest cycling campaign of 2020. The Wheels for Heroes initiative actually started out with a loan offer to  one of our members working at St Bart’s Hospital Trust. Two bikes turned into ten, ten into a hundred and before we knew it we had over 3,000 NHS key workers registered with us to borrow a bike. Rather than disappoint these hard workers, we went on to build over 700 bikes specifically for this initiative. These bikes were funded by charitable donations from the public, the Places to Ride Fund and partially funded by Brompton Bicycle. From day one, we have been committed to ensuring that the story shouldn’t end with Covid-19. We will be using these bikes to create a change in people’s travel habits across the nation and have set up key partnerships to help us achieve our goals.’ 

This article is part of the Arena Magazine, Issue 44 April 2020 edition.
Arena Magazine is the official magazine of the London Freemasons – Metropolitan Grand Lodge and Metropolitan Grand Chapter of London.

Read more articles in the Arena Issue 44.