This is a story about the most unlikely of friendships, an odd couple of sorts, 30 years apart, and how a humble bicycle brought two neighbours, or in this case, complete strangers together to form a great friendship.
Could you suggest someone who could teach me to ride a bike?
It was this simple message of hope from Manly resident, Mathew Paret, on neighbourhood network Nextdoor, which got the wheels turning.
Born in India, Matthew never learned to ride a pushbike.
“I was always scared of falling down breaking my bones. Plus, the place where I grew up, I didn’t have anyone my age group to play with, so learning to ride a bike never happened,” he recalls.
Fast forward to today, now 38 and living in Manly, with a little nudge from his mates, Mathew knew it was time to give it a go. He asked for help on one of the local Nextdoor threads and it caught the eye of a retired school teacher Kerry Downes in Freshy.
“I thought I’ve got a bike, I’ve got the time, I was a school teacher, how hard can it be?” So Kerry reached out to Matthew and offered to give him a lesson.
And low and behold, it turns out Mathew is a fast learner, and Kerry a good teacher.
“I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face, and neither could he, I don’t think. He was riding a bike in the second lesson,” says Kerry.
“It’s connected me with someone I may have never met in my lifetime which I think is nice, but getting to know your neighbours is just really important, and Nextdoor does that, it spreads kindness.”
As most readers might have picked up from the countless references to Nextdoor, it was – dare we say it again – Nextdoor that alerted us to this story. Curious about this new social media platform – and as a news outlet that lives in the social space – I wanted to know what it was all about it so met up with the team. There were so many interesting talking points from that meeting and I’m happy to answer any reader queries. But the story that stood out from that chat – and one I knew you’d want me to share – is of Mathew and Kerry.
Their story reminded me of the countless times I’ve put out a call for help and so many of you had heeded the call. I’ve seen it with the local app One Another and now it’s springing up on Next Door.
“If you ask, there will definitely be someone willing to help, like Kerry. It’s worth it,” says Mathew.
With new found confidence, and Kerry’s blessing, Mathew is planning on buying a bike in the near future so he can explore the many local bike tracks with his mates. Meanwhile, news has spread through the Northern Beaches that Kerry is a free gun for hire. We’re told they’re lining up for lessons and Kerry is happy to help her neighbours.
It turns out that the head of Nextdoor Australia, Jennie Sager, is a Beaches local too. The platform – which doesn’t contain any advertising in Australia but does in the US where is it HUGE – seems to offer the best bits of Facebook for people who are sick of Facebook. It’s a pretty strong selling point, given its free. And in Australia it’s beautifully new, shiny and unsullied, with so many sparks of human compassion and random kindness and community. In fact, there are so many acts of kindness they’ve decided to award a pretty decent prize for it.
So, neighbours are invited to nominate someone in their community who has gone above and beyond to show kindness. It’s to align with World Neighbour Day March 27. There’s $4,000 worth of IGA vouchers up for grabs. Grand prize winner gets $1000 voucher.
“No act of kindness is too small on Nextdoor so we hope everyone on the Northern Beaches will nominate someone they know. A neighbour, friend, colleague. It’s open to everyone, so good luck.” Jennie said.
People can nominate at nextdoor.com.au/kindneighbour and the winners are announced on March 25th.
This is an unsponsored article using information supplied by Nextdoor. Manly Observer will be jumping on the Nextdoor bandwagon soon as a local service (once we find the time to set it up properly!)