Shropshire Star

Talking Telford: Town's walking festival and mayor's fundraising ride help restore faith in humanity

Another successful Wellington Walking Festival, my first as a participant, is in the books, writes Rob Smith.

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Mayor of Great Dawley, Ian Preece, on his fundraising odyssey

I’ve come through a week of walking all across Telford unscathed and learned a wealth of new things about the town I’ve called home for much of my life.

In addition, the sheer dedication displayed by the festival’s volunteer organisers filled me with a warm feeling of bright-eyed compassion for all my fellow Telford folk.

That fuzzy feeling lasted all of about 24 hours. Then, someone tried to steal my bike in the town centre.

Okay, that would be making an unfair assumption - all I know for sure is that someone or something badly damaged the bike lock protecting said bike while I was out shopping.

Whatever had happened in my absence, a rogue piece of metal had seemingly become lodged in the mechanism, as if maybe someone had jammed one of their own keys into the lock and wiggled it hard enough to snap the end off.

The lock certainly did its job, having deterred the would-be thief long enough for them to get bored or lose their nerve, meaning I at least had a bike to come back to. The upshot was that my own keys no longer fit, leaving my bike locked up tight and me stranded.

After about 20 minutes of vain fumbling with the jammed lock, I sheepishly explained the situation to some very helpful security guards who fetched a reassuringly large toolbox.

A further 20 minutes of fumbling ensued, but this time with heavy tools - the lock held firm but eventually we were able to shift the interfering piece of metal enough for me to slide my own key in and free my metal steed. I thanked the burly men and woman profusely and headed for home, suddenly extremely grateful for the private security operation at Telford Centre.

One man who has used his bike to far greater effect lately is the mayor of Great Dawley, Ian Preece - Mayor Preece has not long returned from cycling the length of the UK, raising more than £3,000 for the Severn Hospice with his 70-hour odyssey from Land’s End to John o’ Groats.

With what I bet is masterful understatement, Mr Preece described feeling “a bit sore” after reaching the end of his journey. I hope he is feeling less sore now, and is enjoying some R&R as just reward for his selfless mission.