IT is the Southampton-based scheme that has taught hundreds of youngsters the joys of bike riding.

But the long-term future of a community cycling project is under threat after it lost vital funding from the NHS last year.

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Now organisers of the Dumbleton Park project, based in Dumbleton Copse, Thornhill, have pleaded to businesses in Hampshire for help to save it.

The project started in 2006 and was turned into the first legal ride spot in Southampton. It was originally a disused play area that was transformed through £3,000 of grants from the police and lottery, to build the bike track.

The group, which meets every week, is run and maintained by Southampton-based bike riders, who aim to offer a “safe and legal” riding spot for young people and community groups. They have also worked with schools across the county to promote cycling.

But after losing the vital grant in August last year, which was worth £6,000 a year, the project has had to rely on the profits from DC Cycles in Empress Road where the main organiser Denham Elvin, works to stay afloat.

Mr Elvin, who owns the cycle shop, explained that the rent cost for the equipment is £250 a month, and they cannot afford to keep paying for that plus coach fees, day trips or maintenance. Insurance is paid for by British Cycling.

He said: “I have had to pay for things out of my own pocket since we lost the funding. We can just about get-through this year, but I’m unsure what will happen next year.”

Treasurer of Dumbleton Park, Simon Pickering, said: “For some people it is one of the few safe places they have and it is a nice refuge they can go too.”

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