BLIND and partially sighted people in Bournemouth are getting on their bikes, thanks to a generous donation by the Steve Bernard Foundation.

Visually impaired people who have never been able to enjoy cycling, or who have not done so for years, are now relishing the chance to ride on tandem bicycles.

The Bournemouth Society for the Visually Impaired already had one tandem bike and successfully applied to the Steve Bernard Foundation for another two.

Paralympic cyclist Darren Kenny, who has six Paralympic gold medals to his name, presented the BSVI with the bikes before enjoying a spin around the Slades Farm velodrome.

He said: “We can’t really thank the Foundation enough for donating a couple of tandems to help more and more people get out there and enjoy it.”

Barbara Russell, of Southbourne, is totally blind but has discovered a passion for cycling since using a tandem. “It’s a time when my white cane can be folded up and put away and my sight problem becomes a not such a big problem.

“I enjoy the pace and I enjoy the fresh air, feeling free. Words can’t explain the pleasure, the feeling of well-being and the fulfilment I get.”

The Steve Bernard Foundation, which was set up following sports fan Steve’s death in 2006, has raised more than £160,000 for sports projects across the south coast.

Steve’s dad Tony said: “Some of these people have lost their sight and some have never been able to see. For them, this is a fantastic experience. To be honest, I find it humbling and it makes all the fundraising worthwhile.”

  • The BSVI is now fundraising for a cycle shed to keep their tandems in. Anyone who could help should call BSVI chief executive Philip Tarrant on 01202 546644.