Deafblind couple aiming to raise £20k for charity

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A deafblind couple from Deeside are gearing up for a challenging 1000-mile tandem ride through 22 Scottish Islands to raise vital funds for charity.

This week, Bob Nolan, 53, who was born deaf and has gradually become blind is starting the incredible challenge with his wife Louise, 47, who is profoundly deaf.

The intrepid duo, who live in Bieldside, will begin their 15-day journey from Unst in the Shetland Islands, pedalling 1000 miles through the Orkney Islands, the Outer Hebrides, the Western Isles and Arran - catching 17 ferries along the way - before finishing in Glasgow’s George Square on June 16.

Bob’s dream is to raise a massive £20,000 towards helping Lenzie-based charity Deafblind Scotland create a new, national, custom-built training and resource centre for deafblind people.

The £1.4million ‘Field of Dreams’ building will offer a place where deafblind people in Scotland can be enabled to reach their full potential.

Father-of-three Bob, who has Usher Syndrome, is also determined to see the Scottish Islands while he still has some useful tunnel vision.

He said: “I wanted do something that was challenging, essentially Scottish and, most of all, exciting. We’ve been training hard for months, cycling 26 miles one night a week as well as an all-day ride at the weekend. Because I have such narrow central vision, when I’m on the bike the close scenery always appears to be rushing by and I can feel out of control.

“If we’re cycling directly towards the sun I cannot see at all and am completely reliant on Louise. On the upside, in the right light, I can look around and admire the scenery a long way away.”

The amazing challenge is a real family affair. Bob will provide the pedal power from the back of the tandem while Louise will do all the navigating, steering and gear changing. Son Josh, 16, will set the pace and Bob’s brother-in-law, Scott Greenhalgh, will also join the family for five days from John O’Groats to Barra. Two Deafblind Scotland volunteers will also support Team Nolan throughout the challenge and a number of friends will accompany them for different legs of the journey.

The biggest test for the pair will be communicating, which they do by lip-reading in a rear-view mirror attached to the handlebars. Given their combined sensory impairments, this will be a remarkable achievement and Bob is hoping to inspire other deafblind people across Scotland to achieve their own personal goals.

Bob, who has been chair of the charity’s Board since 2001 and works full-time as an IT Manager for Shell, said: “Apart from a great family and network of friends who support me, I’ve been blessed with a positive outlook and an appetite for life. If I can encourage other deafblind people to take up a challenge of their own and get the feeling of achievement that it brings I’ll be well satisfied.”

He added: “While this is a personal challenge and a great adventure for me, I’m also doing it for the 5000 deafblind people in Scotland, many of whom face much more difficult circumstances than me and who deserve so much more.”

Drena O’Malley, Deafblind Scotland’s Resources Officer, said: “Bob’s determination to keep taking on challenges and to keep achieving, despite his difficulties, is inspirational to us all. It’s a pleasure to be able to support him in his latest challenge.”

To follow their progress visit www.bobstandemride2.zoomshare.com or to donate visit Bob’s Justgiving page on www.justgiving.com/bobstandemride2