Big Lottery Fund
Printable version

78 year old woman fulfills lifelong dream and rides bike for first time

A 78-year old woman has fulfilled her childhood dream of learning to ride a bike thanks to a Big Lottery Fund project.

India-born Valbai Kresha had never had the opportunity to learn how to ride a bike during her childhood. Having moved to Cardiff in 1968, Valbai worked in University of Wales Hospital for nearly 25 years before retiring 18 years ago, now spending her retirement to improve her practical and linguistic skills, as well as finally learning how to ride a bike. 

Valbai is just one of hundreds of people that have had their lives transformed thanks to the Changing Gear project that was awarded £296,602 in 2014 through the Big Lottery Fund’s People and Places programme.

(Read more about Valbai’s story, and the Changing Gear project on our blog.)Goes to different website

The Changing Gear project has relaunched yesterday, and will be working with the NHS to widen its reach, and to improve the lives of many more people throughout Cardiff, the Vale of Glamorgan and Rhondda Cynon Taf through a range of cycling-related activities and services.

Speaking of how she became involved in the project, Valbai said: “I’ve always wanted to learn how to ride a bike and I was told about the Changing Gear project. After my 77th birthday last year, I decided to go for it because I think you are never too old to learn.

“The day before I came here, I told my son and grandson that I was going to learn how to ride a bike. ‘Don’t go’ they said, ‘it’s too dangerous for you’. But I wanted to learn and meet new people. I was doing exercise at home but I wanted to do something else outside in the fresh air.”

Valbai turned up excited to her first lesson and after only five turns on the bike around the circuit she could balance by herself for the first time.

“I was so excited, I really enjoyed it and I went round about ten times altogether that day. To think all these years that I’ve never learned to ride a bike. I was just absolutely thrilled.”
Valbai is now urging more women from Cardiff’s Indian community to take part in the project.

“I love coming here because you get fresh air and it’s a way of becoming fit and healthy whilst meeting new people. This is one of the best things I’ve ever done.” 

Highlighting the importance of the People and Places programme, Rona Aldrich, Wales Committee Member for the Big Lottery Fund, said: “Programmes like People and Places are making a difference to the lives of so many people in communities across Wales.
“It delivers on our promise to use National Lottery funding to regenerate and revitalise communities, tackle disadvantage head on and leave a lasting legacy.”

The People and Places programme awards grants of between £5,001 and £1 million for a broad range of community projects. For further information about the programme and how you can apply for funding, please visit

To find out more about the Changing Gear project or if you know anyone who would like to be involved with the project, please email or call 02920 390 713

Further Information:

Alexander Davies - Big Lottery Fund Press Office: 029 2067 8236
Public Enquiries Line: 0300 123 0735                           
Textphone: 0845 6021 659
Full details of the Big Lottery Fund programmes and grant awards are available at:
Follow Big Lottery Fund Wales on Twitter: to different website
Find Big Lottery Fund Wales on Facebook: to different website

  • The Big Lottery Fund supports the aspirations of people who want to make life better for their communities across the UK. We are responsible for giving out 40% of the money raised by the National Lottery and invest over £650 million a year in projects big and small in health, education, environment and charitable purposes.
  • Since June 2004 we have awarded over £6.5 billion to projects that make a difference to people and communities in need, from early years intervention to commemorative travel funding for World War Two veterans.
  • Since the National Lottery began in 1994, £34 billion has been raised and more than 450,000 grants awarded.


Channel website:

Share this article

Latest News from
Big Lottery Fund

2021 Public Sector Digital Marketing Summit: 22-23 September 2021