Who is Winnie

Proudest moment since you opened SE20 Cycles?
The proudest moment was the day I actually opened SE20 Cycles. The banks had closed on me the day before I opened the business. I went through a charity called Leonard Cheshire who were working with Barclays Bank at the time to help people with disabilities get into business. I’d been liaising with them for a year beforehand and they’d helped me. The next step for me was to find a shop, did that, pay the rent, did that, order the stock, did that and then the day before opening they said that they couldn’t help me any further. The year before, I had met all of their requirements for a loan and then the day before I opened the shop I didn’t meet their requirements for the loan? This all happened when we had the credit crunch come along in 2008 and no one saw it coming. I was due to open in the September and the credit crunch started at end of August that year and the banks turned around and said that they couldn’t help me. So I had £20,000 of stocking coming in that was cancelled, £8000 of tools coming in which were also cancelled. I had no stock, I had no tools but with the support of a loving family and friends I still opened. So it makes me so proud to see what it is now.

I could probably top that with having lunch with the queen (as you do). I was put forward for an award by some local councillors in recognition for some charity work I had carried out through the shop to help young people in the community.

If you knew then what you know now, what would you do differently?

I wouldn’t have gone to university to study a degree in Spanish (laughs) and would have become a cyclist straight away. As a kid, Herne Hill was my nearest venue but cycling was for rich kids and I wasn’t a rich kid. I didn’t own my first bike until I was 12 and my mother finished paying for it after 3 years and by the time I got it, it was too small for me and I couldn’t return it. But I rode it proudly so my mum wouldn’t feel bad. The next bike I owned wasn’t until I was 19, so it took me a while before I could afford to get into cycling. All the people locally had bikes, that I would take apart and fix for them but I never owned a bike for such a long time, hence the delay in my career!

Taken from an Interview with Winston, SE20 Cycles by David Ward