Axminster chef supports bike building academy

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall presents a cheque for �40,290 to new business after web campaign.

AXMINSTER celebrity chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall has put a new bicycle building school on the road to success – after presenting its founder with a cheque for more than �40,000.

He handed the money to Andrew Denham, of The Bicycle Academy, at his River Cottage HQ.

The cash was raised in an amazing six days, through website and is thought to be the fastest ‘crowd-funded’ enterprise in the UK.

Fledgling business The Bicycle Academy asked the public to back them on the new website, developed by Mr Fearnley-Whittingstall’s team.

The money was badly needed to establish an innovative bicycle building academy, teaching students how to construct bike frames which will then be distributed across Africa through partner organisations. The bikes can help provide a vital transport link to food, water and education.

The academy was thrilled to hit the target so quickly and Mr Denham, founder and organiser, said: “It’s fantastic to be presented with this cheque by Hugh.

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“We owe a very big thanks to and the people who backed us.

“We’ve been working towards this for some time, so it’s a great feeling knowing that we’ll definitely be setting it all up as planned. The response to our Peoplefund campaign has been overwhelming.” enables people with a potentially game-changing business idea to ask the general public for the funding they need to set up or expand. The business sets a target for the money it wants to raise and explains how it will use the cash. People can then make pledges for small amounts of money in return for a ‘reward’ if the target is reached.

Nick Underhill,of, said: “It’s a simple, powerful idea. Great ideas can come from anywhere - as long as they might just change the world. Pledges start at �1 and money doesn’t leave anyone’s account until the target is raised. We are looking for good ideas that may just make a global difference and we want to empower people to take positive action.”

Mr Fearnley-Whittingstall, a director of Keo Films which created, said: “The success of our Fish Fight, Landshare, and Chicken Out campaigns have shown that solutions and impetus often come from grass roots collective action, and have the power to effect more remarkable change than we really ever imagined.

“ builds on that momentum and gives people the means to take their ideas forward. We want it to be a fantastic tool for entrepreneurs and idealists who capture the popular imagination.”

“ might just change the world…”