Steel City

SheffieldStation-300x225Our first visit to Sheffield and the first impression is good – the city centre has clearly had a makeover in the recent past and very nice it looks too. We (Brigitte in particular) were less than impressed with the wet tracks of the city’s Super Trams though!

If you follow her blog, or have read the current edition of CTC’s Cycle magazine (pages 20, 49 and 51! ), then you’ll be familiar with yorkshire’s queen of disability cycling and the main reason for our visit.

Caroline‘s engaging personality, inquisitive mind and now, boundless enthusiasm for cycling, made a very pleasant evening pass all too quickly. It isn’t all a bed of roses, but it seems that tackling her mobility problems through cycling has fundamentally affected how she feels, helping to build some additional resilience to life’s knocks.

The following morning we rendezvoused with Dave, CTC’s Transport guru, and met Caroline at the Wheels For All base in Hillsborough Park. This project is truly a joint effort, including input from Cycle Projects, CTC, the City Council, SNIPS… the list goes on.

We covered a lot of ground during an open discussion with Caroline’s sponsor, the Sheffield Wellbeing Consortium represented by Nigel and Charlotte, mainly around the topic of how our work nationally links with projects at a local level. We all came away with a clearer picture and some ideas to look into.

HillsboroughPark-300x225Then it was time to see Caroline, Cycle Trainer Fred and Park Ranger Wren in action. On her hub-geared, Greenspeed GT5, Caroline swept around the basketball court clearing the area of budding footballers ready for the session. As a WFA Assistant Trainer (she’s got the T-Shirt too) she conveys an inherently positive message to all those coming to the sessions – no wonder Nigel from the Wellbeing Consortium sees the potential in sponsoring her activities.

To those who have experienced it, the benefits of cycling to mental and physical wellbeing are obvious, but quantifying that in terms of money saved to justify funding isn’t so easy. In the current climate the robustness of that information is likely to be even more important in order to keep such projects running in the longterm.

Thanks to Caroline for bringing us all together; an important link in a very long chain.

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