Cycling transforms Thetford gran’s life

A Thetford gran says she has transformed her life after taking part in a cycling project in the town to help improve people’s health.

Wendy Dorling said she has lost weight and feels fitter after discovering a love of cycling that changed her family’s life.

The grandmother was bitten by the cycling bug thanks to Sustrans Bike It, which was funded and promoted by Thetford Healthy Town in partnership with Norfolk County Council and NHS Norfolk.

The 49-year-old, who lives in Thetford, took up cycling when she began to bike to and from school with her 10-year-old grandson Josh Murad in January 2010.

“Cycling is a great mode of transport. I find that it’s quicker to do the school run on the bike, rather than travelling by car. It saves a lot of money. It is also a nice way to start the morning - you have a bit of exercise that wakes you up, and it’s good to be out in the fresh air,” she said.

Wendy started cycling using a second-hand bike, but now her son Lee Woodcock has built her a mountain bike of her own.

It was Lee, 25, who originally inspired the family to cycle. He first became interested in cycling when his car broke down just over two years ago. Since then, he has volunteered at Dr Bike sessions and today he works part-time as a bike mechanic at Keystone Green Ventures Bikes in Thetford. He met his girlfriend Suzie through cycling, has built his own bike, and cycles from Thetford to see friends in Norwich and Mildenhall.

Most Read

His mum Wendy credits cycling with helping her lose a stone in weight. She has also joined Mildenhall Cycle Club’s women’s ride which cycles off-road each week - something she hasn’t done for years.

“It was a case of ‘if you can’t beat them, join them. The first week I thought it could go either way but I can now manage it far easier, and I enjoy it. I feel like I have more stamina now. I have lost weight and I’m a lot physically stronger thanks to cycling,” she said.

Josh has been a part of Bike It’s winning teams for many of their interschool competitions, and he helps out at a weekly cycle surgery at his school. Josh has managed to get his grandfather, Wendy’s husband Max, into cycling too, who cycle 10 miles every weekend at High Lodge.

Lucy Macleod, a consultant in public health at NHS Norfolk, said: “Thetford Healthy Town has a range of initiatives to encourage people to be more active, and their promotion of Sustrans Bike It is clearly inspiring people like Wendy and her family to incorporate more physical activity into their daily life.”

“Today’s sedentary lifestyles can lead to a risk of developing serious illnesses like type 2 diabetes, heart disease and cancer. But often it’s easier to become more active than you think, and Wendy and her family prove that cycling can be enjoyable for all ages too.”

For more details on Thetford Bike It and Thetford Healthy Town, visit: or call 01842 757350.