Press release

Herne Hill Velodrome is latest winner of Big Society Award

Local residents and volunteers recognised by the Prime Minister for their dedicated work to save 1948 Olympic cycle track in south east London.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government


Local residents and volunteers who saved the iconic open-air Herne Hill Velodrome in south east London will today be recognised by Prime Minister David Cameron with a Big Society Award. The historic site, the last remaining venue still in operation from the 1948 Olympic Games, is enjoyed by thousands or people each year, including hundreds of school children learning to cycle.

Three years ago local residents and volunteers got together with British Cycling to save the Herne Hill Velodrome, which was facing closure due to resurfacing work required for the track. Led by local resident Hillary Peachey with a group of friends and Velo Club Londres, the ‘Save the Velodrome Campaign’ began in 2010.

A year later, more than 750 people attended a public meeting at Dulwich College to show their support, pledging time, money and commitment. Thanks to the contributions of The Dulwich Estate and British Cycling the resurfacing of the track was completed in 2011. Further improvements to the facilities, including track lighting, were completed in 2013 with funding from Southwark Council’s Olympic Legacy Programme.

The velodrome is now full to capacity with holiday clubs, open race meetings, sessions for local schools and sessions for the disabled – due to the efforts of volunteers from VCL and the Herne Hill Velodrome Trust, the charity set up to steward the full regeneration of the Herne Hill Velodrome site.

Since 2010, the ‘Save the Velodrome’ campaign has resulted in:

  • the resurfacing of the main track – which was funded by British Cycling from a legacy fund
  • the introduction of floodlights, a new junior track and a multi-use sports area, which was completed in June 2013, funded by Southwark Council’s Olympic Legacy Project - now more children can use the facilities, for longer
  • the formation of the Herne Hill Velodrome Trust, the charity overseeing the regeneration of the velodrome, with a volunteer board of 14 trustees
  • the launch of the Friends of Herne Hill Velodrome which now has over 900 members
  • the expansion of regular sessions to include disability groups, schools, women’s groups and retirees

Prime Minister David Cameron said:

Although the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games remain fresh in all our minds, it is great that there is still a legacy from the 1948 Games in south London.

Thanks to the hard work of local people and a bit of help from inspirational cycling heroes, cyclists of all ages and abilities can now enjoy using Herne Hill Velodrome and maybe one day follow in the footsteps of Bradley Wiggins, Chris Hoy, Victoria Pendleton and Chris Froome.

Herne Hill Velodrome is a fantastic London landmark and an excellent example of the Big Society.

Hillary Peachey, Chair of the Herne Hill Velodrome Trust, the charity set up to help save the historic site, said:

Thanks to all our partners, volunteers and supporters, we have completed 2 phases of the project. It is great for us all to be recognised by the Prime Minister for our efforts. We will launch a fundraising campaign in September for the third phase, the development of a new pavilion on the site. We desperately need new indoor facilities – space for specialised training sessions, for clubs and user groups, for showers and toilets, for changing rooms and for a cafe …

The track itself is thriving and we want to inspire a greater range and ability of cyclists, from toddlers on balance bikes, women and disabled riders on hand bikes. What better 125th birthday celebrations could we have in 2016 than to celebrate the opening of a new pavilion?

The Herne Hill Velodrome Trust has Sebastian Coe as its President, and is supported by a wide range of luminaries from the cycling world such as Victoria Pendleton and Ben Swift, as well as local luminaries including Jo Brand and James Nesbitt.

The group is due to launch their funding campaign with the support of Sport England and the London Marathon Trust to build a pavilion to improve indoor visitor facilities, to keep the velodrome thriving, and as a local community resource for all to enjoy every aspect of cycling from track to mountain biking.

The 450 metre cycling track accommodates a wide range of users, from school kids learning to ride a bike for the first time up to professionals training and racing. Bradley Wiggins, Laura Trott, Joanna Rowsell and Jody Cundy all started their cycling careers here and the trust hope to generate yet more Olympians in the future. Tommy Godwin, 2-time medal winner in the 1948 Games, worked alongside fellow volunteers to save the track.

British Cycling President Brian Cookson OBE said, “Herne Hill is living proof that cycling is a sport which can be trusted with legacy venues”.

The Trust is a support group to the hundreds of volunteers that work at Herne Hill. The voluntary work is varied, including coaching, gardening, making the teas or event organising. The local community have brought their expertise in different areas to achieve a shared goal of regenerating the site to a modern standard and to be more inclusive with its local schools, disability groups and young potential athletes of the future.

Notes to editors

Herne Hill Velodrome

Herne Hill Velodrome welcomes all cyclists, whatever their age or ability, beginners through to elites. We offer a wide range of well-priced sessions, including: track training, track racing, road bike only, women only, youth only, MTB for kids and holiday clubs.

Development has involved Hopkins Associates, the architects that designed Stratford Velodrome, Jackson Cole for project management, FM Conway for construction, and Freshfield for legal work. The trust is made up of 14 volunteers, and is supported by the Friends of Herne Hill Velodrome and countless volunteers.

The day-to-day running of sessions at the track and the surrounding mountain bike trails is done by Velo Club Londres and the Herne Hill Youth Club.

Herne Hill hosts the longest running cycling event called The Good Friday Meet, attended by thousands every year.

Media contact for Herne Hill Velodrome

Lara Thornton,
Noah Samuels, trustee, Herne Hill Velodrome:

The Big Society Awards

The Big Society Awards were set up by the Prime Minister in November 2010. The aim is to acknowledge individuals and organisations across the UK that demonstrates the Big Society in their work or activities. In so doing, the aim is also to galvanise others to follow.

The award focuses upon 3 specific areas:

Outstanding contribution to community

  • people, projects and organisations that enable communities to drive change themselves
  • projects and organisations that allow the community to identify solutions
  • people, projects and organisations that inspire others to contribute to their community

Improving lives and society through innovation, collaboration and new partnerships

  • people and organisations taking new approaches to public services
  • successful collaboration and partnerships between public, private and voluntary sector - working together to benefit communities

Engaging in social action

  • people, projects and organisations taking action in their community
  • working together for social change (eg through creating groups, campaigns, movements)
  • generosity of time, money, skills and other resources – in support of social action

Launching the awards, the Prime Minister said:

There are some amazing projects and remarkable voluntary work going on in towns and cities up and down the country, by all kinds of organisations from large enterprises to tiny grassroots schemes and inspirational individuals.

These awards are a chance to pay tribute to those making a valuable contribution to their community, the real champions of the Big Society, but perhaps more importantly, I hope they will motivate many others to take action, get involved and drive change in their area.

Nominations come in from the general public after which there follows a process of scoring and short-listing by civil servants and a further short-listing by a panel of ministers and independent external experts. This panel makes recommendations to the Prime Minister who makes the final decisions about who to make the award to. 12 winners are decided each quarter meeting and then announced once a week throughout the year.

Big Society Awards - inspired by 2012: keeping the Olympic flame burning across the UK

The Olympic and Paralympic Games last summer enthralled the nation and inspired more than 70,000 people to volunteer their time and energy. Since then, people have engaged with their local sports clubs, tried a new sport, implemented community initiatives, ignited whole towns and villages to commit to keeping the spirit of 2012 alive.

To celebrate the anniversary of the 2012 Games, a number of awards will be announced for innovative groups, individuals and organisations whose work exemplifies the Big Society and whose Olympic-style achievements are making a real difference in communities.

Enquiries: Lucy Windmill 07795 445 197

Over 80 winners have been announced to date, including:

Community Action Through Sport Promoting, recognising and rewarding all young people for positive community action with sports based awards.

AFC Wimbledon AFC Wimbledon is a professional Football League Two club, which is currently celebrating its 10-year anniversary. The club is still owned by its supporters via the one-fan, one-vote Dons Trust. Since formation, the club’s officials, supporters and 300 volunteers have organised a number of community initiatives.

For a full list of winners visit the Big Society Awards website.

Published 12 August 2013