CHILDREN with special needs enjoyed a confidence boost last week when they were taught to cycle by dedicated volunteers.

The group, all of whom benefit from NHS health services, were trained as part of a scheme held at the BMW MINI Plant in Cowley.

Across five days, 11 children took advantage of Mini's event space to learn to ride in a safe environment.

The aim is for participants to gain confidence from mastering the skill, with all but one child riding their bike unassisted by the end of the week.

Several children conquered a fear they never thought they would overcome and this made it all worthwhile for lead organiser Wendy Jennings.

She said: "All of them came in absolutely petrified because most of them had been trying with their parents for ages.

"By the end they had fantastic smiles and they were all very excited.

"A few of them might be able to go on roads safely but it's mostly for cycling in the park.

"Even the one boy who didn't manage it asked if he could come on the next course to try harder."

Mrs Jennings volunteers with Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue and used to be a road safety officer for the service.

The organisation forms one quarter of the partnership that runs the course, withOxford Health NHS Foundation Trust’s children’s community physiotherapy service, Oxfordshire Sport and Physical Activity and Oxford Brookes University.

Volunteers from each organisation assist with training that is as rewarding for the adults as the children.

In the last six years, dozens of children with various physical and emotional difficulties have learnt to cycle through the partnership's training, which takes place twice a year.

Since 2014, the course has taken place at the MINI plant, which offers one of the most suitable spaces in the county for safe cycle training.

Duncan Balloch, MINI Plant Oxford event & plant tours manager, said: “We’re really delighted to be able to support such a great course.

“Learning to ride a bike is an important life skill and to see how far the kids have come in just a week has been fantastic.”

For Mrs Jennings, the course's success will be measured in other aspects of participants' lives.

She said: "A lot of them have struggled with things like this and we hope this will have given them confidence to try other things."