Deafblind Scotland

The Nolans are in the mood for cycling! Land's End to John O'Groats Tandem Ride

Bob Nolan recently celebrated his 50th birthday and decided he needed a new challenge and an even greater challenge than he faces every single day of his life. So Bob, Deafblind Scotland’s chairperson from Aberdeen who has been deaf since birth and is now going blind, has decided to undertake a tandem cycle ride with his wife Louise, also deaf, whilst he still has time to see the best countryside Britain has to offer.

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The Nolans are planning to celebrate Bob's half century milestone with an ambitious 1000-mile tandem bike ride from Land’s End to John o’Groats this summer, leaving Lands End on 31st May. The journey will last for sixteen days with Bob and Louise averaging over sixty miles per day, and up to seventy six miles on the longest stretch through Sutherland in the far north of Scotland. Their aim is to create awareness of deafblindness and to raise funds for Deafblind Scotland. Indeed, they would be delighted if their intrepid journey created sufficient interest and support to launch the fund for a new resource centre in Scotland for deafblind people – a centre of excellence where deafblind people can be enabled to reach their full potential. The tandem ride will coincide with Deafblind Awareness Week in Scotland and promises to be the adventure of a lifetime for the pedalling pair. Parties and ceilidhs have been scheduled along the way although Louise said, “dancing the dashing white sergeant after sitting in the saddle all day may be a little ambitious but we’ll give it our best shot! I’ve completed cycling tours in both Vietnam and Egypt recently so I have experience of fairly long trips in sometimes adverse conditions, but this is all new to Bob.” Bob added, “I’m really looking forward to it, I just wanted to do something I can’t normally do and it’s impossible for me to ride a bike on my own. In fitness terms, we just have to prepare thoroughly but the biggest challenge will be communication; we’ll have to make do by lip-reading in a rear-view mirror attached to the handlebars! Louise will do all the navigating whilst I provide peddle power from the back, but I’m just delighted I’ll get to see so much of the British countryside whilst I still have a degree of useful sight left.” Bob and Louise will ride every mile ‘in tandem’ with another pair of deaf cyclists, their childhood friends Martin and Abigail Willis from the south east of England, who will provide practical support and encouragement. It’s also hoped that other riders will join the ‘pack’ at regular intervals along the way to boost morale as the inevitable aches and pains catch up with the group. There are 5,000 deafblind adults in Scotland, 25,000 UK-wide, all of whom have difficulty in accessing the simplest of information. Deafblind Scotland exists to ensure they have meaningful contact with the world and can provide everything from football scores to bus timetables in alternative formats. Deafblind Scotland also provides one to one communication and guiding support to deafblind individuals living alone in the community. Drena O’Malley, Deafblind Scotland’s Resources Manager added: “Bob, is an inspiration to us all and a terrific role model for deafblind people who believe their active lives have prematurely come to an end.”