Bob and Louise Nolan on their trusty tandem
A deafblind couple are gearing up for a challenging and inspirational 1000-mile tandem ride through 22 Scottish Islands to raise vital funds for charity.
On Thursday, June 2nd 2011, Bob Nolan (53) who was born deaf and has gradually become blind will take on this incredible challenge with his wife Louise (47) who is profoundly deaf.
The intrepid duo, who live in Aberdeen, will begin their 15-day journey from Unst in the Shetland Islands, pedalling 1000 miles through the Orkney Islands, the Outer Hebrides, the Western Isles and Arran – catching 17 ferries along the way – before finishing in Glasgow’s George Square on June 16th 2011.
Bob’s dream is to raise a massive £20,000 towards helping Lenzie-based charity Deafblind Scotland create a new, national, custom-built training and resource centre for deafblind people. The £1.4million ‘Field of Dreams’ building will offer a place where deafblind people in Scotland can be enabled to reach their full potential.
Father-of-three Bob, who has Usher Syndrome, is also determined to see the Scottish Islands while he still has some useful tunnel vision. He said: “I wanted do something that was challenging, essentially Scottish and, most of all, exciting. We’ve been training hard for months, cycling 26 miles one night a week as well as an all-day ride at the weekend.
“Because I have such narrow central vision, when I’m on the bike the close scenery always appears to be rushing by and I can feel out of control. If we’re cycling directly towards the sun I cannot see at all and am completely reliant on Louise. On the upside, in the right light, I can look around and admire the scenery a long way away.”
The amazing challenge is a real family affair. Bob will provide the pedal power from the back of the tandem while Louise will do all the navigating, steering and gear changing. Son Josh (16) will set the pace. Bob’s brother-in-law, Scott Greenhalgh, will also join the family for five days from John O’Groats to Barra.
Two Deafblind Scotland volunteers will also support Team Nolan throughout the challenge and a number of friends will accompany them for different legs of the journey.
The biggest test for the pair will be communicating, which they do by lip-reading in a rear-view mirror attached to the handlebars. Given their combined sensory impairments, this will be a remarkable achievement, needing great determination, stamina and resilience and will, Bob hopes, inspire other deafblind people across Scotland to achieve their own personal goals.
Bob, who has been chair of the charity’s Board since 2001 and works full-time as an IT Manager for Shell, said: “Apart from a great family and network of friends who support me, I’ve been blessed with a positive outlook and an appetite for life. If I can encourage other deafblind people to take up a challenge of their own and get the feeling of achievement that it brings I’ll be well satisfied.
He added: “While this is a personal challenge and a great adventure for me, I’m also doing it for the 5000 deafblind people in Scotland, many of whom face much more difficult circumstances than me and who deserve so much more.”
Drena O’Malley, Deafblind Scotland’s Resources Officer, who will provide vital support to Bob and Louise throughout the challenge with her husband Hammy, said: “Bob’s determination to keep taking on challenges and to keep achieving, despite his difficulties, is inspirational to us all. It’s a pleasure to be able to support him in his latest challenge. Let’s hope the midges are on our side!”
To follow Bob and Louise’s progress, including route maps, visit their blog at www.bobstandemride2.zoomshare.com
To donate, visit Bob’s Justgiving page on www.justgiving.com/bobstandemride2
Thurs 2 June: Underhoull – Haroldwick – Belmont – Gutcher – Ulsta – Toft – Scalloway
Fri 3 June: Scalloway – St Ninian – Sumburgh – Lerwick – Kirkwall
Sat 4 June: Kirkwall – Costa – Brockan – Stromness – St Margaret Hope – Burwick – John O’Groats
Sun 5 June: Thurso – Bettyhill – Tongue – Durness
Mon 6 June: Durness – Ullapool – Stornoway
Tue 7 June: Butt of Lewis – Dail Beg – Callanish – Stornoway – Tarbet
Wed 8 June: Tarbet – Leverburgh; Berneray – Lochmaddy – Lochboisdale
Thur 9 June: Barra Circuit – Vatersay – Castlebay; Eriskay – Lochboisdale – Uig
Fri 10 June: Uig – Old Man of Storr – Portree – Broadford – Armadale – Mallaig
Sat 11 June: Mallaig – Kilchoan – Tobermory
Sun 12 June: Tobermory – Craignure – Iona – Oban
Mon 13 June: Oban – Lochgilphead – Kennacraig – Port Askaig
Tue 14 June: Inverlussa (Jura) – Feolin Ferry; Port Askaig – Bowman – Port Ellen – Tarbet
Wed 15 June: Claonaig – Lochranza – Blackwaterfoot – Kildonan – Lamlash – Brodick
Thur 16 June: Ardrossan – Glasgow (George Sq) – Lenzie (DBS HQ)
For further information: Jenny Kumar on 07989 557198 or firstname.lastname@example.org OR Drena O’Malley on 07774 192659.
NOTES TO EDITOR
• Bob and Louise starting tandem cycling in 2007 for Bob’s 50th birthday challenge, riding from Lands End to John O’Groats in 2008 and raising £35,000 for Deafblind Scotland.
Deafblind Scotland (DBS) – www.deafblindscotland.org.uk
• DBS is an association for dual sensory impaired adults. Our vision is of a society where deafblind people have the permanent support and recognition necessary to be equal citizens.
• There are 5,000 deafblind adults in Scotland who all have difficulty accessing the simplest of information.
• DBS ensures they have meaningful contact with the world, providing everything from football scores to bus timetables in alternative formats and by providing one to one communication and guiding support to deafblind people living alone in the community.