As a keen cyclist himself, it's probably no surprise that instructor Ray Stuart has made such a success of the  Margaret Carey Foundation bike workshop at HMP Kirkham. 

I feel I have always had the drive and the passion to make a difference and I feel fortunate that I have found my dream job.

Ray has a backgroud in sign writing, manufacture and fitting and joined the prison service in 2006, spending 6 years in the farms and gardens, 1 year as an industrial cleaning instructor before finding his home as bicycle maintenance instructor in partnership with the Margaret Carey Foundation. 

Ray says: "Having the opportunity to set up the bicycle workshop six years ago was fantastic. Coming from a practical background with a keen interest in bicycles and people has meant this job has really suited me."

"I work with up to fifteen men in my workshop at any one time and together we refurbish around forty bicycles a month. I have the Velotech platinum qualification and now deliver accredited training to targeted trainees who show the right skill set with the aim to try and place them in a better place to secure employment upon release. To date we have had notable success with Halfords and Paul Hewitt Cycles with one ex- prisoner now being the head bicycle technician at one of their stores.

Over time I have managed to secure a supply of bikes locally through donations to our farm shop and a partnership developed with Lancashire County Council and their household waste recycling centre at Lytham, meaning that all our bikes are now donated from within a five-mile radius. I have also developed further links to: International Aid, Salvation Army, Fulfilling Lives, Street Life, Manchester Probation Service who all work with vulnerable people.

In 2017- 18 Ray was named as a commendee for a Butler Trust Award. He was nominated, by a prisoner, for his dedication and skill in helping to change the lives of the men in his charge. 

"Gaining a Butler Trust nomination was an enormous sense of pride and fantastic experience I will never forget. 

Going forward I am mentoring an ex-prisoner who is setting up two bicycle repair workshops in the Greater Manchester area with a view to help candidates who could benefit from this scheme." Read more here

Once refurbished a proportion of the bikes are donated locally or sold through the prison farm shop. 

For more general information about HMP Kirkham visit the Ministry of Justice website