Wheels for All Tendring Event

First Inclusive Cycling Hub Launched in Harwich and Dovercourt

Julie Bunnage, Project Manager for Wheels for All Tendring, tells us about their fabulous Open Day.

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What was the event?

History was made on Tuesday 13th June as the first inclusive cycling hub for Harwich and Dovercourt was officially opened by the Town Crier at the Wheels for All Tendring Open Day event.

Many new visitors flocked to the Lighthouse Sport and Social Hub in Dovercourt, eager to take advantage of the opportunity to experience the joy of cycling on adapted cycles.

Who came along?

We are delighted that the launch had a fantastic turnout, with around 30 people getting involved, including 20 active participants, most of whom are local residents. For many of them, it was their first time trying out cycling, while others were returning to the activity after a long hiatus.

There was a range of adapted cycles available to cater for diverse needs and abilities. Options included tricycles, hand cycles, recumbents, two-seater cycles, and a wheelchair-transporter. This extensive selection ensured that everyone had the chance to find a suitable cycle and participate in the event.

What was the purpose of the event and how did it go down?

The primary aim was to raise awareness of the regular inclusive cycling opportunities available in the Harwich region. Helen, who lives locally, was the first rider of the day. Initially a little sceptical beforehand, Helen’s doubts faded away as she chatted to Julie, who was able to provide friendly and informative guidance.

Helen said, “To get on that bike and go down the beachfront on the path was a sense of freedom I haven’t felt for a long, long time because I have Parkinson’s and

I get very breathless, but cycling this bike I didn’t get breathless at all. It’s been fantastic, what a lovely day!”

Among the participants were Jean, Ted, and Maureen from Lime Court Care Home, accompanied by their Lifestyle Coordinator, Sarah Meachen.

Sarah shared the views of the residents, saying, “Ted showed his skills, taking control of a seated recumbent cycle and doing several laps of the roller rink. Jean and Maureen both enjoyed the wheelchair cycle along the sunny promenade. We would like to thank Wheels for All and all the volunteers for such an amazing experience. We’re looking forward to the next opportunity to go again.”

Jean, filled with joy, exclaimed, “Such a wonderful time, loved the ride with the wind in my hair, thank you so much.”

Colin, accompanied by his carer Roxy, embarked on a quest to find the perfect cycle that would allow him to balance and ride comfortably. The Tomcat dragon was certainly suitable, thanks to its self-righting steering, however, Colin’s favourite was the Fun-to-Go cycle.

With a chuckle, he shares, “It was good cycling with the wind behind us, but coming back was like going up a mountain. I loved it and will be back with some of my friends.

Who was involved in running the event?

Julie is in no doubt that the success of the event was the result of collaborative efforts from our brilliant partners and volunteers.

Carina from Essex Pedal Power Harwich, who has now been trained as a Wheels for All session leader, provided invaluable support throughout the day.

CVST (Community Voluntary Services Tendring) also played a crucial role, with Becky, Keily and Shirley assisting as Meet-and-Greeters. Their extensive local knowledge and trusted presence helped to ensure the smooth operation of the event.

Volunteers helped on the day by finding the most suitable cycle for participants, supporting riders on the seafront cycle path, and making sure that the roller rink was safe and secure. Training for volunteers was carried out just the day before the event, so it was nice and fresh in their minds!

We were thrilled to welcome new volunteers, such as Lynn, a former teacher.

Lynn says, “I had a fab time and would be happy to volunteer regularly or lead sessions. It was great to see how all the people that came really enjoyed cycling, so many big smiles, and I’m sure we’re going to get lots of take up going forward. I enjoyed listening to people’s stories, and I felt that I actually did support them as one or two were a bit apprehensive at first. As soon as I got them settled on a cycle, they were able to relax and enjoy it.”

Are you looking for a volunteering opportunity?

We’d love to welcome more ongoing support from volunteers at the Wheels for All Lighthouse Hub. You could contribute in various ways, such as meeting and greeting guests, directing them to the offsite cycle path, assisting with unloading and loading cycles, providing water refills to ride leaders, and ensuring the fleet is secure and prepared for each ride.

If you’d like to come along to a Wheels for All Tendring session or offer your support as an individual or organisation, please get in touch with Mark Holden by emailing mark.holden@wheelsforall.org.uk or calling 07719 073532.

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