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Cycling champion

291. Maryam Amatullah

A local cycling hero from Leicester who encourages women from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds to cycle for fun.

Maryam Amatullah’s love of cycling began 5 years ago when she started to explore her local area and enjoy the outdoors with her daughter. After noticing other women who are from ethnic minorities or who wear a hijab could be reluctant to go cycling, Maryam started to organise fun, social, local bike rides to encourage them to get active. She is a Champion for the British Cycling Breeze Programme that aims to support and inspire women to start cycling and has inspired over 150 women to get into cycling.

Maryam, who works in her local authority Road Safety team, noticed a real reluctance with Asian women to get involved in cycling. She identified that many wanted to ride a bike but lacked confidence, fearing falling or being laughed at. For some it didn’t fit with the expectations of the role of women, particularly for those over 40.

As well as working with women from BAME backgrounds, she has helped establish Leicester Women’s Cycling Club, a successful women’s only group with over 50 members. Maryam leads rides that go at speeds to suit everyone, and they often start and finish at a cafe so that everyone can have a drink or a chat. Her work helps women grow in confidence, increasing positive feeling and empowerment as well as building a sense of community.

Prime Minister David Cameron said:

“Inspiring people who think they are not able to do something takes passion and patience. Maryam has demonstrated these qualities and, through her love of cycling, has shown women that they can be active regardless of their background. I am very pleased to be able to recognise the difference age has made in the lives of the women she works with by making her a Point of Light.”

Maryam said of receiving the Point of Light:

“I’m always humbled and honoured to receive recognition for the work I do and it continues to motivate me. I simply just love seeing more women on bikes and will encourage and support any woman who wishes to do so. The women are always amazed how far they can go and the places they can visit on a bike.”

MP for Leicester South Jon Ashworth said:

“It is fantastic that Maryam’s amazing work is being recognised with the Point of Light award. Her commitment and enthusiasm is making a real difference for women across Leicester, and especially women from ethnic minority backgrounds. The Point of Light award is further recognition of the changes Maryam is continuing to make in her community.”

British Cycling president Bob Howden said:

“Cycling is nothing without its volunteers and Maryam is a real credit to what is an army of people across the country who freely give up their time for the good of the sport. Everyone at British Cycling is incredibly proud of Maryam and all her wonderful achievements.”

The daily Points of Light award recognises outstanding individual volunteers - people who are making a change in their community.

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