500 miles in tandem for sensory week

Bob and Louise Nolan with Jim Alston and Maggie Mac Donald from the centre
Bob and Louise Nolan with Jim Alston and Maggie Mac Donald from the centre

FIFE Society for the Blind welcomed some very special visitors to its Sensory Impairment Centre in Kirkcaldy last week.

Bob and Louise Nolan began a 500 mile tandem bike ride on June 12 from their home in Lenzie, to raise awareness of deafblindness in Scotland.

Alan Suttie, Chief Executive, Fife Society for the Blind

Alan Suttie, Chief Executive, Fife Society for the Blind

And on their journey they took in all of Scotland’s seven cities: Perth, Stirling, Inverness, Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh and Glasgow.

On their route they planned a stop off at Fife Sensory Impairment Centre in Kirkcaldy to meet with staff from FSB to find out about the work being done to help people with visual and other sensory impairments lead full and productive lives.

Bob has Usher Syndrome, meaning he is both deaf and registered blind, while his wife Louise is deaf. The aim of their cycle was to raise awareness of their conditions in conjunction with Deafblind Awareness Week which ran from June 16-20.

Alan Suttie, chief executive with FSB, said: “We were more than happy to welcome Bob and Louise to the centre and to support them in this wonderful cause.

‘‘We always enjoy interacting with partner organisations to raise awareness of sensory impairment.

“They met with one of our deafblind members, Jim Alston from Kirkcaldy, and they were able to find out how the centre is helping him.

“They also had a welcome cup of tea and cake to refresh them before they continued on to Burntisland where they spent the night before continuing on their journey.”

Bob and Louise were due to meet David Ross, communications assistant with FSB Enterprises Ltd, who has a great interest in tandem cycling, but after being delayed when they got lost making their way to the centre, they were, unfortunately, unable to speak to him.

Mr Suttie added: “It was quite an opportune time for them to visit the centre because the Scottish government has just finished a report called ‘See Hear’ for people with sensory impairments and Fife Council is carrying out its own review.

“We carried out a pilot project, testing 100 people across Fife, randomly assessing people’s vision and hearing and it showed that 75 per cent had some form of dual sensory loss, which is a significant figure.

“We published a report on the findings and it is one of the things which Fife Council will take into account when it is conducting its review into the services offered for people with sensory impairment.

“If your hearing is beginning to fail you rely more on sight to read people’s lips, and if your sight is failing you will rely more on hearing to compensate, but if both are beginning to fail then it can be quite debilitating.”