In support of the wellbeing of those who give so much to protect others, May 4 saw the launch of the Bluelight Cycling Club – the U.K.’s first cycling club for emergency service workers.
The launch, held at New Scotland Yard, included representatives from a variety of officers and staff from across a broad spectrum of emergency service providers.
Metropolitan Police (Met) intelligence officer and Honorary President of the Club, Colin Nye, said: “The work undertaken by the emergency services and partners like the armed forces is unlike other vocations and sometimes sees our colleagues subjected to repeated trauma.
“Having a community built around a shared interest like cycling is an excellent way for emergency workers to decompress in a safe space. I am delighted to be able to support this initiative in a small way and wish all those involved the very best of luck”.
The idea for the club started when three Met officers – Colin Nye, Neil Turner and Dan Bryant – planned a London–Paris cycle ride to raise funds for police charities following the death of a colleague in Westminster in 2019.
Word of the planned ride spread quickly on social media, with the number of people wanting to take part soon exceeding the capabilities of the organizers.
The planned ride was sadly cancelled due to Covid, but that was not the end. With interest in cycling among emergency services personnel growing on social media, a group from different agencies met virtually on a Zoom call in March 2021. It was there that the vision for the Bluelight Cycling Club began to take shape.
Retired Flying Squad Detective Sergeant and co-founder, Neil Turner, said: “The enthusiasm of the co-founders, the original committee and our business partners has led to something truly amazing being created.
“Dealing with traumatic events and the wellbeing of others while juggling concerns for our families and our own personal safety has been a delicate balancing act. Our aim, going forward, is for the club to actively support wellbeing for those who work in the emergency service arena.”
The cycling club, which is affiliated to British Cycling, is open to riders from the police, the NHS, fire and rescue services, HM Coastguard, the RNLI, HM Prison Service, the armed forces, the National Crime Agency and search and rescue organizations.
The club is a non-profit community interest company and funds raised through membership and sponsorship assist five nominated charities dear to the blue light community. They are COPS (Care of Police Survivors), Help for Heroes, NHS Charities Together, the Firefighters Charity and the Coastguard Association.
The club aims to provide a safe place for emergency workers to come together and enjoy cycling, to promote their wellness and good health, and to give something back to those who risk their own personal safety and wellbeing as first responders in emergency and critical situations across the U.K. on a daily basis.
Ambassadors for the club who will be joining in on some of the rides throughout the year include Sharron Davies MBE, Eurosport commentator Tom Gaymor, Commonwealth Games sprinter Chris Pritchard and former England rugby player Andy Goode.
Met Police Chief Superintendent Roy Smith said: “I am absolutely delighted to support the Bluelight Cycling Club. We know that across all of the emergency services colleagues are significantly more likely to be exposed to trauma over the course of their careers – responding to the most dangerous, serious and traumatic incidents that many people would run away from.
“This undoubtedly takes its toll and we know that there are strong links between physical exercise and mental health – both of which are key for your overall wellbeing.
“Getting together with likeminded people in a safe space to exercise is a brilliant way of managing some of that stress. Anything that can be done to keep our blue light heroes healthier and happier has my vote.”
David Birch, one of the founders of the club alongside his colleagues in the police force, told Homeland Security Today that Bluelightcc.com along with Redlightcc.com & firstresponderscc.com are ready to grow overseas. “The website is GEO Tagged so all of our rewards and discounts are already built in for U.S. and Canadian members.”
Birch feels that the Bluelight Cycling Club could also be a really good club and organization to support U.S. first responders and military members retired and current.
Birch also founded and runs Endurance Zone (EZ) with three directors all of which are U.S. Veterans. “EZ is a U.S. registered business based out of Baltimore. We do a lot with the U.S. military and we are currently organizing a large event with the United States Veterans Chamber of Commerce and Pro Football Hall of Fame for Peyton Manning’s enshrinement, looking to raise over $2M for U.S. Veterans and their families,” he explained.
The club also has a partnership with the Chopra Foundation which enables expert insight and support for mental wellness too.