Generous gesture helps Stratford teen get back on two wheels

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Martin and Alex

A Stratford teenager has thanked the kind-hearted Good Samaritan who stepped in to help when criminals stole his bike from the town centre.

Alex Blake, 17, was left devastated when he discovered his bike had been taken on Henley Street following a shift at Benson’s Tea Rooms.

The heart-breaking theft prompted Alex’s mum Kerry to highlight what had happened on Facebook, but what followed was a complete surprise to both her and her son.

The very next day, Martin Payne, who owns The Salon on Henley Street, came to the rescue, offering to buy Alex a new bike.

Alex said: “My heart just sank when it was stolen, by coincidence I was walking back with my manager and we were talking about rising crime in Stratford and how someone we knew had had their bike stolen on Henley Street. A minute later we got around the corner and mine was gone.

“It was my only form of transport, I used it for getting to my job and to help commute to college.

“I was at work when my mum first spoke to Martin, but she called me up at Bensons, she was just freaking out really and then she told me about the new bike, it was just so surreal. I was absolutely speechless, I didn’t know what to say.

“The bike is amazing, I would’ve taken any beaten up second-hand bike that was offered to me, but the new one is a proper road bike, it’s much more lightweight then the old one and it’s faster.

“I’d never met Martin, but he’s just got a heart of gold, I can’t thank him enough. He might not consider it to be much of a big deal, but it means everything to me.”

Kerry added: “Alex was gutted when the bike was stolen, he took it personally and it was a blow too when we found out that the insurance would not pay out for it. It was the very next day that Martin messaged me asking if the bike had turned up. I’d never met him before and he was asking me questions about the frame size and the colour, which I thought was a bit strange so I asked him why.

“He told me he’d had enough of bikes being stolen on Henley Street and that he wanted to buy Alex a new one because he was working hard in a job.

“When Alex found out, he was gobsmacked, he had a couple of tears in his eyes. I don’t know how to thank Martin, he’s just amazing.”

Martin said: “There are a lot of bike thefts happening at the moment and when I heard about what happened to Alex, a 17-year-old who had just started his first job, I just thought that would make a lot of young people want to give up. Something like that could have really affect you, I remember when I was 17 my bike was a lifeline when you couldn’t drive. That’s why I decided to help.

“I think we need to look at better ways of securing bikes in the town centre, maybe there’s a secure property that could be used, it would be a better way of looking after kids’ bikes.”

According to reports from the Stratford Police Safer Neighbourhood Team (SNT), there have been a number of bikes stolen in the town centre since 25th August.

Dominic Bes-Jeary from Stratford SNT, said: “Incidents of cycle theft are high at the moment, we do usually see a rise at this time of year, but we’re finding it is those with wired locks that are falling victim most often. This type are easier to remove and we would advise bike owners to use a D lock instead, they are bulkier and they are heavier, but carrying one around is a lot better than having your bike stolen.

“We did make an arrest in Stratford recently related to cycle theft and we are looking to resume our bike marking events. Tackling cycle theft is one of our priorities in Stratford and we intend to announce snap bike marking events through our social media channels in the near future.”