A doctor has swapped his stethoscope for bike tools fixing up bikes for Ukrainian refugees.
All the bikes are going to a Perthshire charity providing aid and support to those fleeing the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
The NHS Tayside doctor – who went viral with his COVID posts at the height of the pandemic – is now spending his spare time repairing old bikes locals have generously donated.
Over the past month, respiratory consultant Tom Fardon has fixed 30 bikes and currently has another 20 to work on.
The Ninewells-based doctor is a keen cyclist and chairs the Carse of Cowrie Velo Cycling Club.
Errol-based charity Tayside and Strathearn Help for Ukraine (TASH4Ukraine) contacted Tom after being gifted a number of bikes to send to refugee camps and orphanages in Eastern Europe.
Tom told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: “These bikes were in various states of repair.
“TASH4Ukraine asked if I could check them over, and make sure they were safe to ride. Some of those first 15 bikes needed a lot of work, but I was able to fix them up using spare parts from my cupboards.
“When those were picked up, the charity dropped off some more!”
Tom posted some pictures on his Facebook page.
Following that he had “an amazing response” from locals donating more bikes.
He said: “In the last month I have repaired 30 bikes, and have another 20 to look at and repair. I’ve only had to condemn one bike so far, but I was able to strip the parts off that bike to repair others.”
The bikes donated have ranged from old mountain bikes, to newer road bikes and hybrids, folding bikes, BMX bikes and a variety of children’s bikes, which Tom says are “particularly welcome”.
As well as bikes there have been donations of spare parts, tyres and tools.
Tom added: “Tyres are the most useful thing as many of the donated bikes have perished tyres that aren’t safe. A thorough clean, new tyres and sometimes a new chain can turn a rusted ornament into a working bike.”
Whilst the bikes were initially destined for Eastern Europe some have gone locally to Ukrainians who have settled in the Perthshire and Tayside area.
Tom explained: “Most of the Ukrainian families left their homes very quickly, only able to bring along a handful of belongings, so the gift of a bike gives them so much freedom.
“Families have been very emotional when we’ve passed on the refurbished bikes – the children are particularly happy with them.”
Coordinator at TASH4Ukraine Deborah Ovens told the LDRS: “On behalf of TASH4Ukraine we are incredibly grateful to Tom for giving a huge amount of his time and effort to make sure every bike that is sent to Ukraine or given to a Ukrainian guest locally is serviced and safe.
“All the guests have been extremely grateful and it has given them the ability to cycle to English lessons at college, the shops, meet up with other Ukrainians in neighbouring villages and for the children to be enjoying the outdoors. It has given them all a sense of independence in such difficult times.
“Kids’ bikes of all sizes were also sent to an orphanage in Poland for Ukrainian refugee children and they were overjoyed to receive them.”
TASH4Ukraine is very grateful for all the bike donations but now has enough at this stage and is not looking for any more. They have also paused clothes donations.
But the charity does urgently require: dry food, toiletries, medical supplies, adult incontinent pants, baby nappies and milk.
Drop off points are listed on the Perthshire charity’s website: www.tash4ukraine.weekly.com
Deborah added: “Together we are making a difference and Tom has certainly had his part to play in giving of his time so generously in helping Ukrainians in Tayside, Perthshire and abroad.”
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