Inspirational Wollaton couple, Mark and Catherine Whittle are joining a team of eight other blind and partially sighted tandem cyclists and volunteer sighted ‘pilots’ to mark the 175 anniversary of Nottinghamshire’s oldest charity, My Sight Notts, by raising money for the charity where they first met.
“I’ve only been cycling for two years or so,” explained Catherine Whittle aged 51 from Wollaton, “but already I’m totally hooked! When you’ve been blind since childhood like I have, you rarely get to experience the joy of the open road. Cycling gives me a sense of freedom of movement and sheer exhilaration like nothing else I’ve experienced before. When I’m on the bike with my sighted pilot, Kate, I can feel the wind in my hair, hear the birds sing and experience the peace of the canal tow-path.”
Catherine’s husband, Mark aged 57 who is also registered blind, said: “Generally we cycle once a week for between 10-15 miles, so we’ll have to really up our game to cycle the full 50-mile course, but we’ve never shied away from a challenge! We’re motivated to take part to help raise money for My Sight Notts. I’ve been involved with this brilliant local charity for around seven years, they’ve helped me get to grips with my smart phone and I’ve enjoyed being part of their social groups, holidays and sporting activities. Not only do they provide essential support, they’re also very close to our hearts for personal reasons, as Catherine and I actually met when we were volunteering for them! Because we benefit from the services they provide we wanted to give something back as a thank-you for everything they’ve given us.”
The cycle challenge takes place on Sunday 24 June, as part of Cycle Live 2018, which sees the 10-strong visually impaired tandem riders and their fantastic sighted volunteer ‘pilots’ team up with Ride Wise and the Nottingham City Council GOGA (Get Out Get Active).
The tandem project emerged as a result of the partnership between Get Out Get Active, Ridewise, British Blind Sport and Tim Reddish CBE, former Paralympic swimmer, as an initiative to grow the inclusive Cycling offer across the city. On the 29th March 2018 nine local cycle leaders from Ridewise attended a Sight Loss Awareness workshop followed by a practical workshop on tandems. This programme was then expanded and developed through the partnership between Ridewise and My Sight Notts.
Malcolm Evens, Trustee at My Sight Notts who organised the charity’s tandem team, said: “I’m absolutely thrilled we have been able to pull together a team of 10 intrepid visually impaired cyclists and secure the support of 10 fabulous sighted volunteer ‘pilots’ to work with them. We should make quite a visual spectacle as we all line up on the starting line on our tandems!
“I’d also like to thank Nottingham City Council GOGA (Get Out Get Active) for funding our training programme and Ride Wise, the local cycling charity for delivering an excellent tandem training programme.”
A separate start time has been arranged for our very special team of riders, some of whom are cycling 25 miles and some, like Mark and Catherine who will be attempting 50-mile course.
If you want to support this intrepid team of cyclists, please visit the JustGiving page below: