A cycling club has picked up an award which means it can do even more to help blind and partially sighted people.

Tandem Trekkers, which is based in Mirfield and takes riders from Huddersfield and across Kirklees and West Yorkshire, now has around 80 members and is part of Limitless, British Cycling’s disability and para-cycling programme.

It received a Focus Club award from Prince Edward’s wife, the Duchess of Edinburgh, who is patron for British Cycling. The awards were held at a Limitless celebration day in Manchester.

It means the club is highly regarded in the world of disabled cycling and can now apply for more grant funding, can get both digital and face-to-face training for volunteers, can have more specially adapted bikes and have development support through British Cycling’s staff team.

Tandem Trekkers trustee Paul Stark said: “For an organisation like ours to receive the Focus Club award and to be thanked in recognition for the difference we aim to make to the lives of other disabled cyclists means the world. Disability and impairment are, sadly, still barriers that need tearing down.”

The way Tandem Trekkers works is that the pilot – the front rider – takes the lead with the stoker – the rear rider with sight problems – helping by providing more pedal power.

Even blind or partially sighted people with little experience of riding a bike are welcome as the lead rider does the main balancing.

The group grew out of the former Kirklees Visual Impairment Network – now called Outlookers – and was so successful it set itself up as a charity.

The minimum age to ride is 18 and the oldest is now 84.

Paul said: “Some have no sight at all while most have some perception of light and dark. They describe it as looking through a pinhole with very narrow and restricted vision.

“They really enjoy being out and about feeling the sun, wind and even rain on their faces. It’s a brilliant feeling of freedom and there is tremendous companionship between the pilots and stokers.”

Anyone volunteering to be a pilot undergoes an induction to learn all the safety information they need to help a blind or visually impaired person. All bikes and helmets are provided.

The trekkers usually ride in convoy and they have two trailers so can take their tandems anywhere.

They ride every Saturday from the beginning of March to the end of November, usually around Kirklees and West Yorkshire, but also go further afield to Hull, York, Boroughbridge and Fairburn in North Yorkshire and Clitheroe in Lancashire.

The Tandem Trekkers website is https://tandemtrekkers.org.uk/blog/

To contact Tandem Trekkers email hello@tandemtrekkers.org.uk or phone 07951 799736 or 07774 213372.

To watch a video of Tandem Trekkers in action go to https://fb.watch/jaM8t8xvac/

Written by ANDY HIRST who runs his own Yorkshire freelance journalism agency AH! PR (https://ah-pr.com/) specialising in press releases, blogging, website content and copywriting.