Children across Launceston who have never owned a bike of their own were greeted with an early, two-wheeled Christmas present on Thursday morning.
Variety the Children's Charity of Tasmania donated 100 bikes to kids in need as part of a program honouring one of the organisation's late fundraising stalwarts.
The charity's Bikes4Kids initiative began in 2021 in memory of Northern Tasmanian Matt Richards, whose great passions were helping children and bike riding, which he often combined into donating bikes.
Mr Richards tragically passed away in November 2021, and Variety has since donated 100 bicycles annually to schoolchildren and neighbourhood houses in Launceston.
This year's brand-new bikes were sent to Waverley District Primary School, Ravenswood Heights, Beaconsfield Primary, Hagley Farm School, Neighbourhood houses Launceston, Punchbowl Primary School and the Benevolent Society.
At Waverly Primary, a truckload of bikes arrived to the surprise of the school's 10 student recipients, who were joined by their parents and teachers at the gift-giving event.
When the bikes were unveiled, Liam Partridge turned eagerly to his father with an ear-to-ear grin and said, "We can go riding together now, dad" while other students quickly put on helmets for a pre-class ride.
"I know that this will bring them lots of joy and entertainment during the holiday period," said Anita Price, Waverly District Primary's assistant principal.
The bikes were constructed over two days at UTAS Stadium by 14 volunteers, while the entire program was supported by a number of other businesses; Anaconda supported purchase of discounted packages of a bike, helmet and bike lock; GHD Engineering, Architecture & Construction Services contributed funds; and Budget donated a truck for the day.
Variety worked with schools, local welfare and support agencies to identify children without a bike to provide them with what they called a basic childhood need.
"This is what Variety loves doing, and it's moments like these that we realise we want to do more and reach more kids," Variety Tasmania CEO, Mohammad Aldergham said.
"The program aims to give the gift of freedom, independence, exercise and joy to children who are sick or have additional needs, or those who have never been fortunate enough to have a bike of their own."