The journey to Tom’s Bicycle Workshop

Tom O'Connell in his bike workshop (Damjan Janevski). 394851_04

Zoe Moffatt

Almost a decade ago Riddells Creek resident Tom O’Connell was cycling along the Maribyrnong River when he discovered a community bike shed.

While he was already involved in the world of cycling and considered himself a serious amuatur cyclist, the Brox-native was on the beginning of a path that would lead him to donating $60,000 to local and international charities.

Tom said members of the Community Bike Hub in Footscray invited him to see what they were doing, and shortly after he began volunteering with the group on Saturdays.

“They were taking in donated bicycles and then donating them to asylum seekers and refugees,” he said. “I was with them for four years and worked alongside bicycle engineers [to fix up the bikes].”

When COVID-19 struck and the world turned indoors, Tom said two bicycles appeared in his carport and he called his son to investigate the curious delivery.

“I called my son up and asked if it was his doing and he had told a few people I could repair bicycles. I wasn’t intending this because I don’t need the money so I thought okay I’ll donate it to charity.

“Most of the cash flow comes from servicing and repairs… I don’t donate bikes, I raise the money for charity. I’ll take in [donated] bicycles occasionally but they have to be in near new condition.”

Tom said he has been involved with charities outside of Australia for a while now and through his extensive travel saw the need for smaller charities to receive support.

“I lived and travelled for 10 years and I visited 47 countries. During that time I spent time in third world countries, and I taught English in Cambodia.

“I became involved with someone setting up a school teaching young students and I was her first volunteer and so I started donating to her.”

Tom’s Bicycle Workshop also works closely with the Riddells Creek Neighbourhood House and can be found on Facebook.