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kind gesture Frontline doctor whose bike was stolen outside hospital is ‘pumped’ after getting free replacement

Frontline medic who had bike nicked outside hospital hails Halfords for giving him free replacement

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Dr Connor Toal with his new bike from Halfords after his was stolen

Dr Connor Toal with his new bike from Halfords after his was stolen

Dr Connor Toal with his new bike from Halfords after his was stolen

A hero Covid intensive care doctor from Belfast was left 'deflated' after thieves nicked his bike but was soon 'pumped' when Halfords replaced it for free.

Connor Toal has revealed how the bike supplier generously put him back on the saddle after heartless thieves stole his pushbike from outside the London hospital where he's been saving lives from Covid-19.

The 28-year-old from north Belfast tweeted a shocking picture of what greeted him just after he'd finished a 13-hour shift at the Royal London Hospital Monday week ago.

Cambridge graduate Connor is a Clinical Research Fellow and splits his time between being a doctor on the biggest Intensive Care Unit in London and doing research into Covid.

Locked

"I'd locked my bike up right at the entrance to the hospital because I thought with security being so close that it would be safe," explains Connor.

"When I came out of work on Monday night [January 11th] I'd actually just finished four straight days of 13-hour shifts and was looking forward to two days off.

"So yeah you can say I was pretty deflated when I saw all was left of my bike was one wheel.

"I'd put several locks onto it and they'd got most of them off but couldn't get the front wheel. It was a bit of a shock alright.

"I'd just say to whoever took it to think about how they would want to be treated if they were in hospital - I thought we were all supposed to be pulling together."

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Dr Connor Toal

Dr Connor Toal

Dr Connor Toal

Dr Toal says the theft was particularly annoying because the bike had been given to him by his partner's father.

"My girlfriend's dad gifted it to me so I could avoid public transport like the Tube because it was very crowded," says Connor.

"And it was a classic old Peugeot bike which had been custom-built for him, but he didn't use it anymore. I think it was worth quite a lot of money and it meant something.

Connor tweeted about the theft posting: "Leaving intensive care at the Royal London where I work as a doctor last night to find nothing but the wheel of my bike left is not how I wanted to finish a 13- hour shift.

He added: "Halfords saw the tweet and a couple of days later they had reached out to me and we exchanged private messages.

"They basically offered me a choice of bikes and they fixed me up." with something that suited me and they had it all ready for me to collect by Friday.

"It was a brilliant gesture and it really does make a difference.

"When something bad happens like that it makes a difference to know there are good people out there who appreciate the job you are doing."

Halfords tweeted Connor to say they were very sorry to hear about his "unfortunate incident" and offered him a new Carrera Vengeance bike for free.

Connor says he postponed a planned year off travelling round Australia to help fight the coronavirus.

"During the first wave of the pandemic I was working in a hospital in Liverpool in A&E and that was a different experience," he says.

"I was going out and treating people in ambulances and then admitting the worst cases to the ICU and then it's a slow grind watching to see if they get better or not - often they didn't.

"After the first wave I'd thought about travelling to Australia but when it became clear there was going to be a second wave I headed to London because I thought they would be badly hit and would need all the help they could get.

"I suppose I actively went looking for trouble. I wanted to be in the middle of it. After this I reckon I'll be able to handle anything."

He says the Royal London Hospital is under severe pressure and has already expanded its intensive care unit massively.

"The normal capacity here is usually 45 people but we have opened up several new wards and there are around 170 people in intensive care.

"It is very much like you are working in some kind of war and this is the field hospital. There is a great sense of camaraderie, but it is very demanding."

Connor says the research he's involved in mostly involves Covid and also being involved in trials for the Johnston & Johnston vaccine, which is awaiting approval.

He says he's hopeful that vaccine will be approved by the UK in the next month or so which will mean people can be vaccinated quicker.

"I hope this pandemic has shown people how important the NHS is and if there's to be any silver lining to come out of this nightmare it could be that people appreciate the NHS more," says Connor.

"It would take a brave politician to try and screw over the NHS after all this."

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