Essex Freemasons Put Ashley Back in the Saddle.

Invictus Games Competitor and British Army veteran Ashley Hall fought back after a terrorist bomb took off both his legs and part of his left hand while on duty in Afghanistan, but even he was unprepared by the callous thieves who stole his specially adapted bike

Now thanks to Essex Freemasons, Ashley, aged 28, is back in the saddle four months after thieves broke into the shed at his Colchester home, taking the bike and most importantly the special components that enabled him to ride it.

After his story was featured in the Colchester Gazette Rodney Bass, Provincial Grand Master for Essex Freemasons, immediately offered to replace the bike, a task that took four months and the skill of experts from across Europe to fulfil.

“Raising the £8,000 to replace the bike and purchase the modifications was the easy bit,” said Mr Bass, who officially presented Ashley with his new machine on Thursday October 18th at the St Giles Masonic Centre in Colchester.

“We had to approach a specialist company in Austria, the only one that could build the bespoke specification needed and even they had to order and adapt a wide range of additional components to complete the job. It was a long wait but worth it to be able to get Ashley back in the saddle.”

“I was particularly appalled by the fact that thieves who have probably contributed little to the community, had deprived a brave Army veteran, seriously disabled serving his country, and my members agreed. I am delighted we could help.”

For Ashley, who was serving in the Royal Engineers in 2007 as part of a bomb disposal team at the time of his injury, it is a dream come true.

“I wanted to do all the things that I had enjoyed before the incident,” he said. “One of these was riding a bike again on just two wheels, a thing that most people take for granted. The thieves stopped that on the day they broke into my shed.”

Not that Ashley is man who is easily deterred. In 2017 he competed in the wheelchair rugby event in Prince Harry’s Invictus Games and today practices martial arts – he is a blue belt in Brazilian Jujitsu and enjoys shooting following his Army career.

At the time of the robbery he was in Anglesey in North Wales competing for Team Brit, a racing car event – and enjoys as many sports as he can.

Now he has his new bike he will also be back on the road and has installed several new deterrents for would be thieves.

Note to Readers: The £8,000 to purchase the bike and its modifications was donated by members of Essex Masters Lodge.  The images courtesy of Brian Mackett feature Ashley Hall, the PGM Rt W Bro Rodney Bass, OBE; Dep PGM VW Bro Paul Reeves and W.Bro Paul Harris, secretary of Essex Masters Lodge.