The road through the Isles

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June has been a historic month for Deafblind Scotland with Bob and Louise Nolan from Aberdeen having found a novel way to bring deafblindness to the attention of the public when they undertook a 1000 mile tandem ride around the Scottish islands from Unst in Shetland to Glasgow’s George Square taking in 22 islands and even more ferries in between.

As Deafblind Awareness week is upon us this was an even more appropriate time to show just what deafblind people can do given the right support

This was a gruelling journey for anyone, but even more so for Bob who is registered blind and very hard of hearing, and his deaf wife Louise, the front rider. The couple communicated on the journey whilst moving by lipreading using a wing mirror. Both are committed to keeping fit and the punishing 70 mile a day schedule over some of Scotland’s steepest hills required them to be at their peak!

Bob, 53, is chairperson of Deafblind Scotland and is raising funds for a new Training and Resource Centre to be built on their “Field of Dreams” in Lenzie. At the time of going to press the couple have raised almost £8,000 and hope the funds will continue to come in during awareness week and beyond.

Deafblindness can happen to anyone, particularly due to people living longer, illness, or even prolonged exposure to loud music and deterioration to ones eyes, such as Macular Degeneration. Bob himself, has a genetic condition known as Usher Syndrome which causes deafness from birth and deteriorating tunnel vision in the teenage years.

The Nolans were accompanied by their support team, their son Josh, 16, Drena O’Malley who works for Deafblind Scotland, and her husband Hammie who has a bike shop in Kirkintilloch and who was an invaluable support to keep the bikes on the road and running sweetly.

Deafblind Scotland is most grateful to the Hebridean Guest House and the Heb Hostel who generously gave the party free accommodation in Stornoway. And also John Gill of Sight Action who facilitated a trip to a local Harris Tweed mill which was very interesting. Deafblind Scotland looks forward to working with John on Sight Action’s new project to make it a success. Bob and Louise also wanted to express their gratitude for the warm welcome they received in Lewis and to the many people who stopped to donate money along their route.

Anyone who wishes to continue to contribute to Bob and Louise’s Cycle Challenge for the building of a Centre for Scotland’s deafblind adults can do so at: http://www.justgiving.com/Bobstandemride2 or go to http://www.deafblindscotland.org.uk/