Bikes donated for African charity stolen in Athlone

A large number of bikes donated by the public to the School Bikes for Africa charity scheme were stolen in Athlone over the weekend.

Westmeath County Council, which partnered with the Rotary Club of Ireland to establish the scheme in Westmeath, said it is deeply disappointed to learn of the break in and robbery at the Athlone Civic Amenity Centre over the weekend.

A council statement said "A large number of bikes which had been donated by the public to the School Bikes for Africa charity scheme were stolen and the locked container in which they were contained had the doors damaged in order to gain access."

John Jackson Environmental Awareness Officer said: “It is particularly disappointing that these individuals choose to target a charity scheme which is designed to benefit those who are most in need. Since we launched the School Bikes for Africa scheme in August, the response from the public has been overwhelmingly positive.

"People from Athlone and surrounding areas have donated old and unused bikes which were destined to help children in Africa to access education. Every bike donated was giving a young child an opportunity to attend school, something they may not be able to do otherwise. We will assist the Gardai in their efforts to identify those responsible”

Commenting on behalf of Rotary Ireland, Jason Dempsey, District International Services Team Lead, said: “We are very disappointed to learn of this theft and we are working with Westmeath County Council and local Gardai to investigate the matter. All in Rotary would like to thank the public in Athlone for their brilliant support of this initiative so far.”

At the local launch of the Bikes for Africa scheme at Athlone Civic Amenity Centre in August were, from left, Jason Dempsey, Rotary Ireland District Team lead, Cllr Louise Heaven, Des Campbell, Athlone Rotary president, the cathaoirleach of Westmeath Co Co, Cllr Frankie Keena, David Murray, district governor, Rotary Ireland and Cllr John Dolan. Bikes donated for the scheme in Athlone were stolen over the weekend.

Westmeath County Council said it will support the Gardai in their investigations into the incident.