The sun shone in a bright blue sky above the golden sands of Cleethorpes beach on our first trip out for 2023 on the triobike.
As we’ve regularly highlighted, taking older people out for a ride is part of tackling isolation and loneliness in our communities. We own this amazing triobike, a specially adapted bike with room for two front-facing passengers, and we use it to get members of local charity Friendship at Home out and about.
Pilot Gary Allington, the hospital’s facilities manager and community officer said: “It’s so great to be back! I just love hearing the passengers chatting and reminiscing as we travel along the seafront. The promenade is very long, and it is sometimes inaccessible for older people, for several reasons like health or transport, so it’s great to be able to take them to locations they might not have seen for some time.
“As soon as we move off, the passengers point out landmarks or views, and soon the memories flow. It really is a privilege to be a part of that.”
First up for a bimble along the seafront were Pauline and her daughter Mandy, who is a volunteer at the weekly chair-based exercise sessions held by Friendship at Home. “It’s our first time on the triobike,” said Pauline, “and I’ve been looking forward to it.” “It’s brilliant,” said Mandy, upon their return to our start and end point, the Kingsway Kiosk. “The ride is so smooth!”
Next were Janet and Maria, again first-time triobikers – and their journey didn’t disappoint. For this journey, the bike’s ‘pilot’ (the name we use for the person driving the triobike) was Mark Witts, from Cleethorpes, a recent volunteer recruit to Friendship at Home. He signed up as a volunteer befriender and heard about this initiative and decided to give it a go – especially as he enjoys cycling for pleasure.
Janet said: “Wow, it’s brilliant! It was great to feel the wind in my hair.” And Maria was full of praise for Mark: “He’s a very good driver. I’ve had a great time.”
Mark said: “I have really enjoyed it today. It’s great when people walking along the prom wave at us.”
Maureen, from Immingham, was yet another triobike newbie, but her companion Margaret, from Cleethorpes, had experienced it before and knew what to expect. Maureen said: “That was so good! We gave people the royal wave as we headed up and down the promenade. One person said we both looked like queens, sitting on a throne!”June and Eileen with pilot Mark
Our final passengers in the glorious sunshine were June, from Cleethorpes, and Eileen, from New Waltham, both of whom are old hands at this triobike lark. They returned to our end point with wide grins and were full of thanks for the experience.
Amanda Sparkes, a dementia community support worker at Friendship at Home, said: “We couldn’t have picked a better day for our first trip out of the year – it really is beautiful on the seafront today. We are so glad to be back.
“The triobike rides have genuine, positive impacts on our clients who take part. They are always smiling when they return and are full of happiness. But we need extra help to make the journeys happen – could you volunteer as a triobike ‘pilot’, the driver who bikes our passengers around?
“If you like cycling, getting a feel-good buzz, and have a few hours to spare, then the triobike could be for you. Because it is battery assisted, it’s easy to pedal and operate. There is full training and support; all you need is a little time to donate, as well as yourself. It only requires a small commitment timewise, and we can guarantee you too will have a smile on your face!”
To find out more about becoming a triobike volunteer pilot, just like Gary and Mark, visit here – hmtsthughs.org/trio-bike/ – and if you’re interested in getting involved, call Friendship At Home on 01472 602500. You can also watch a video of the charity’s manager, Julie Rigby, talking to us about the huge benefits the triobike brings to its members here: youtu.be/J9bmUaE0qSg
Find out more about hip and knee replacements at St Hugh’s Hospital here – hmtsthughs.org/treatments