Video: how restoring vintage bikes has put local veterans on the road to recovery

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now

This article contains affiliate links. We may earn a small commission on items purchased through this article, but that does not affect our editorial judgement.

Four veterans have helped to conserve vintage bikes now on display at Thinktank, Birmingham Science Museum

They are some of the most prized motorcycles in the region.

And thanks to the dedication of four ex-servicemen the collection is back gleaming with glory.

The veterans - David Brooks, Tim Seeley, Wayne Thompson and Steve Lees - are delighted with the results of their volunteering work for Birmingham Museums which took place one day a week for six months.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

In addition to helping preserve the prized fleet they restored one bike - a 1914 Cyclone – that has now gone on display at Thinktank, Birmingham Science Museum.

The ex-service men undertook the work through the Volunteering for Veterans project which was set up by Birmingham Museums in 2021. It supports former members of the local Armed Forces community by providing skills development opportunities alongside social and wellbeing activities.

The project was made possible with funding from the Armed Forces Covenant and support from the Royal British Legion and will run throughout 2022 so that more veterans can benefit.

Veterans and project team members at Thinktank (photo credit Emma Trimble)Veterans and project team members at Thinktank (photo credit Emma Trimble)
Veterans and project team members at Thinktank (photo credit Emma Trimble) | Birmingham Museums

What did the ex-servicemen volunteers say about the project in their own words?

Ex-serviceman and volunteer, Tim Seeley, said:“If it wasn’t for Birmingham Museums getting their Volunteering for Veterans programme up and running a lot of veterans wouldn’t be able to socialise or get back into some sort of activity and out of a rut. A lot of veterans suffer from PTSD, anxiety and depression so getting them involved in a project like this is just amazing.”

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Wayne Thompson added: “The Royal British Legion asked me if I would be interested in volunteering with the museum. At first, I was petrified but working in the storage area of the Museum Collection Centre has been a welcoming and safe place. I’ve learnt a lot about conservation and motorbikes and for me my weekly visits have been an escape – I feel happy afterwards.”

David Brooks also said: “It’s that positivity you get – after our weekly volunteering session I’ll go home feeling I’ve done something good and will feel better for tomorrow and the day after.  People don’t understand how debilitating PTSD is and so to come here each week has made a massive difference.”

Wayne Thompson, Tim Seeley & David Brooks with 1914 Cyclone at Thinktank (photo credit Emma Trimble)Wayne Thompson, Tim Seeley & David Brooks with 1914 Cyclone at Thinktank (photo credit Emma Trimble)
Wayne Thompson, Tim Seeley & David Brooks with 1914 Cyclone at Thinktank (photo credit Emma Trimble) | Birmingham Museums

What did Birmingham Museums say about the project?

Andrea Bonnell, Senior Engagement Officer at Birmingham Museums, said: “Our Volunteering for Veterans programme was set up as a conservation and wellbeing opportunity for members of the local Armed Forces community.

“By using real objects from the city’s collections, the veterans have benefitted from training in conservation, research and creative therapies which have all helped build confidence and motivation. In turn they have supported Birmingham Museums and the work we do in looking after the city’s collection.”

Hide Ad
Hide Ad
1914 Cyclone motorbike at Thinktank (photo credit Emma Trimble)1914 Cyclone motorbike at Thinktank (photo credit Emma Trimble)
1914 Cyclone motorbike at Thinktank (photo credit Emma Trimble) | Birmingham Museums

Are there any other opportunities to volunteer for Birmingham Museums?

Birmingham Museums has a busy volunteering programme in which around 1000 volunteers give over 26,000 hours of their time each year to support its work in caring for the city’s collections and museum sites.

Working with various partners Birmingham Museums also deliver health and wellbeing programmes, enabling access to disadvantaged people or reaching out to new audiences who have not visited any of the city’s nine museums before.

Wayne Thompson with his artwork inspired by the Volunteering for Veterans project (photo credit Emma Trimble)Wayne Thompson with his artwork inspired by the Volunteering for Veterans project (photo credit Emma Trimble)
Wayne Thompson with his artwork inspired by the Volunteering for Veterans project (photo credit Emma Trimble) | Birmingham Museums

Where can I see the restored Cyclone motorbike?

The 1914 Cyclone motorbike is now on display at Thinktank, Birmingham Science Museum which is open Wednesday – Sunday 10am  - 5pm. Click on Birmingham Museums Thinktank  for further information.

A message from the editor:

Thank you for reading. BirminghamWorld is Birmingham’s latest news website, championing everything that is great about our city - reporting on news, lifestyle and sport. We want to start a community among our readers, so please follow us on Facebook,Twitter and Instagram, and keep the conversation going.

Related topics:

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.