The Northern Ireland Optometric Society (NIOS) and Optometry Northern Ireland (ONI) recently sponsored Tandeming Together, a Northern Ireland cycling club for blind and partially-sighted people. The NIOS and ONI membership generously supported Tandeming Together by purchasing 2 new top of the range Tandem Bicycles.

 

The Club, which originated in Newry, gives opportunities for blind and partially-sighted people to have a more active lifestyle, naturally leading to improved health and wellbeing. To live your life in the dark is not an easy option and people with vision loss value the support we can make available, whether that’s simply a guiding arm to help them cross the road or a top of the range racing tandem giving them the option of becoming a Paralympian athlete.

 

Faith Mills, President of the Northern Ireland Optometric Society, and Maria Napier (NIOS Council Member) were delighted to join Danny McSherry (Tandeming Together) to try out one of the new Tandem bicycles. “It’s our pleasure, on behalf of NIOS, to be able to support our local community in this way. Our sight is so precious and yet there are many, even in our local community, who do not allow sight loss to limit them, whether in work or leisure.   Tandeming Together is a wonderful example of this.”

 

Danny McSherry, RNIB Project Coordinator, who has always been a keen cyclist, formed the Newry & Mourne W.A.T.C.H. Club (Walking and Tandem Cycling Health Club) in 2004, extending to Dundalk W.A.T.C.H. Club.  Tandeming Together is now Northern Ireland-wide and is about to celebrate their 10th anniversary.

 

Danny remarks, “I can still hear the voice of the first blind girl I took out on a tandem bike say, it’s just lovely to feel the wind blowing through your hair, you don’t get this experience out walking. I have never forgotten that comment.”

 

“Tandeming Together’s goal for 2015 is to take on 10 major cycling challenges in Ireland, including Belfast Dublin Maracycle, Ring of Kerry, Sean Kelly Tour of Waterford and Lap the Lough to name a few, with at least 10 tandems partaking in each event. In 2013, with the support of RNIB (Royal National Institute of Blind people) and BAC (Belfast Activity Centre), we had 10 tandems complete the 450 mile journey, the length of Ireland from Mizen Head in Cork to Malin Head in Donegal, and in 2012 I had the privilege of leading an expedition to the top of Ben Nevis with 15 blind and partially-sighted people, 7 of whom were completely blind.”

 

Tandeming Together CC enables Club Members with sight loss the opportunity to discover how they can retain and improve their physical and mental wellbeing. If you would like to support the team or get involved, please contact Danny McSherry, Community Vision Coordinator on 07720838681 or danny.mcsherry@rnib.org.uk

NIOS, P.O. Box 2240, BELFAST, BT13 9DA