News

Our latest Newsletter, published in Dec ’23, can be read here.

If you want to read one of our older Newsletters then our Feb ’22 edition can be found here.

Also, if you want to know what kept us busy and cheerful during the unprecedented period of the pandemic here is our third newsletter – the spring 2021 edition. It also includes great stories of fantastic achievements by our chapters. 

For 2020 news, click here to read our second newsletter – the Christmas 2020 edition. It also includes details about our new Chair, Adrian McDowall, and new trustees, Idris and Zara Crumlish.

STORMIN’ NORMAN RIDLEY

 

It was with huge sadness that we were informed on Thursday 7th April that Norman Ridley (“Stormin’ Norman” to his many, many friends in Cycling Without Age Scotland) had died at the age of 85.

Norman, our most senior Board Member, had a fascinating and rich life. He counted both Bobby and Jackie Charlton as team-mates in his school football side at Ashington, Northumberland; his two years’ National Service were spent as an ambulance driver in the RAF; and, underpinned by his life-long resolute Christian faith, he served others in everything he did, including supporting death-row inmates in Changi prison, Singapore, and caring for the destitute across Britain.

From 1978 to 1993, Norman and his wife Mary, worked in men’s hostels. Their son, Norman, said: “Every night they cared for up to 400 men, homeless, some with addictions including to alcohol: people at a low point in their lives. They took them, bathed them, clothed then fed them and arranged for their physical and mental needs. They helped them get back into mainstream life and find jobs and housing.”

Norman dedicated his whole working life to the Salvation Army. From his first introduction to this world-renowned organisation when he accompanied his grandmother to Ashington Corps in 1950, Norman was hooked. He enrolled as a Soldier in 1952 at the tender age of 18.

In 1954 he was moved to Perth with the Ashington Band where he met and married the love of his life, Mary Crockart. Whilst working and training together, they raised their three children in Perth.

Between 1969 and 1978 they served as Corps Officers throughout Scotland, with placements in Strathaven, Coatbridge, Stockbridge, Penicuik, Kilsyth and Bridgeton.

Testament to how effective they were at helping people in need, they were transferred to the Salvation Army Social Services Corps in 1978, with appointments in men’s hostels in Newcastle, Liverpool, Nottingham, Glasgow and London. Such was their success and high reputation that in 1993 they were requested to take charge of Gracehaven Children’s Home in Singapore, where they relocated.

Norman had outstanding natural gifts of tenacity and dedication to a cause, was blessed with a heart of gold and had the exceptional ability to make every life he touched feel special. This unique combination of qualities led him to being appointed Chaplain at Changi Prison and Singapore Boys’ Home.

In 1996 Mary and Norman retired together after 30 years’ service, vocation that had inspired them to help, jointly, more than 3 million people. They returned to Perth to serve in the corps in which they started and they continued to serve alongside new and old friends. They spent many happy years together in Perth until, in 2018, Mary was diagnosed with dementia, which made life very challenging for them both. They were separated for the first time in 64 years when Mary had to move into North Inch Care Home to be supported with the care she needed. This was a heart-wrenching time for Norman which he felt almost broke him as a person.

However, it was at this time that Norman discovered Cycling Without Age Scotland! Always the enthusiast, he joined our project with total commitment and was hugely uplifted by the pleasure that rides in CWAS Perth’s Trishaw gave to Mary and the energising and enlivening effect they had on her. Norman often said that CWAS had become his reason for being. It was his saviour at the time in his life when he most needed it and was yet another ‘calling’ in the life of Norman Ridley. As he had done all his life in service to others, he gave 100% to Cycling Without Age Scotland, for which we will be eternally grateful.

This is the address which Cycling Without Age Scotland’s CEO, Christine Bell, gave at Norman’s funeral at Perth Crematorium on 14th April.

Firstly I would like to thank Lorna and Norman Junior for the privilege and honour of paying tribute to this much loved and deeply respected member of our Cycling Without Age Scotland family.

Norman Ridley – Stormin’ Norman to us!

As much as I was grateful for the opportunity to talk to you about Norman, I soon found it to be a task like no other. How do we sum up Norman in simple words when there are no words that can convey the strength and depth of our feelings for our unique and truly individual Norman?

Words that could be used to describe Norman include:

Generous; Gentle; Kind; Considerate; Compassionate; Trustworthy; Tactful; Tender; Patient; Sympathetic; Mindful; Warm-hearted; and, above all great: fun, with a wonderful sense of humour.

The list is endless and all of these could be used to describe Norman. Yet none of them seems adequate enough to really convey or sum up such a unique human being who meant so much to so many!

Since we at CWAS first met Norman in 2018 when he came to visit our project in Falkirk with Matthew and Lisa from Perth High School, it was instantly apparent that he was someone very special. His passion for the project was undeniable and his commitment even, at that early stage, was set in stone. He was going to help make this project happen and nothing was going to stop him!

From that meeting in Falkirk in March 2018, Norman teamed up with Matthew and Lisa and, by April that year, they had started to secure funding for their Perth Chapter. From the phone calls Norman made to our office (usually 9am on the dot … Carol will vouch for that), we were certain that there was not a single person left in Perth whom Norman had not approached for funding! If they were not giving willingly, he soon convinced them with his energy and enthusiasm that they should … and they did!

It was at that point that Ally, our Operations Manager at the time, came up with two names of our Norman and affectionately referred to him as both on alternate days. One was Stormin’ Norman … and the other Geronimo!
There was no stopping our Norman Ridley!

With a Trishaw named Geronimo, Norman’s team very quickly had wheels rolling around the Inch in Perth delivering rides to so many grateful residents of North Inch Balhousie Care home. Such was Norman’s commitment to Cycling Without Age Scotland, he joined the Board of Trustees in October 2018, during the first year of operations. It was a position Norman took very seriously, never missing a meeting if at all possible. He always participated positively and was never short of ideas – nor slow to contribute.

From the outset, Norman was a truly committed, invaluable and much respected member of our Board of Trustees. But he was always careful to not take himself too seriously! He was often the instigator of humour in our meetings and this escalated considerably when he met his match in Adrian McDowell when Adrian joined our Board in November 2019 and became our Chair soon after.

Meetings took on a whole new dimension when Adrian and Norman sat round the Board table. They always arrived early and would have a good catch up, a carry on and laughing and giggling – when they were meant to be preparing for the meeting. We often referred to them as dead ringers for the two infamous Muppet Characters, Statler and Waldorf!

Carol would be rushing around and getting them all organised as always and trying to bring them to order before all the other members Zoomed in – such was the style of our Board meetings in recent years! It might have looked sensible and controlled for the members joining but, in reality, it was often anything but. If it wasn’t Norman starting the meeting with a big lump of apple turnover sticking to his chin, it would be something equally hilarious which we all worked hard to conceal from our Zoom joiners.

At one of the last meetings Norman attended, we had one such incident when Carol had treated everyone to some lovely jam and cream scones with the teas and coffees whilst waiting on the Zoom members to join. Just as everyone was gathered and the meeting was about to start, Norman picked up his Board papers, only to reveal that he had a full scone covered in jam and cream sticking to the underside of his documents. Chaos again as Carol rushed to the rescue and, in Norman style – and with Adrian trying to assist – the more they helped to clean up the mess, the more they spread the jam and cream everywhere. I can still see and hear Carol to this day rushing back and forward along the hallway with cloths and napkins shaking her head and muttering that it was like dealing with two overgrown naughty toddlers!

Despite these situations, Adrian would bring the Board to order and get everyone on track in his slick and supportive manner and business would be done utterly professionally.

As much as we always had fun, we did have some serious issues to encounter – not least when Norman fell ill and had a short hospital stay in 2021. But he was not one to succumb to anything that would stop him in his mission to help others. He put forward a motion to the Board that there should be an annual fundraiser for CWAS Chapters in the form of a “same day, same time” afternoon tea party in all Chapters across the whole country. Sadly he did not see it come to fruition but we are determined to develop the idea in his honour. Additionally Adrian put forward a motion to complete the naming of a Trishaw Stormin’ Norman (which has been a long term objective) as soon as that could be arranged.

You may have seen the two Trishaws on the way in today. One affectionately named Mary Ridley by Norman in memory of the love of his life, his lovely wife Mary. Alongside Mary’s Trishaw, we are proud to now have its partner – affectionally named Stormin’ Norman which will accompany us on all demonstration visits to new Chapters. It will inspire and continue to spread the joy of this wonderful project, which was so close to Norman’s heart, across the whole of Scotland.

To summarise my tribute to Norman and complete my attempt to state the words which I feel are most fitting for the Norman we love dearly, it has to be:

Norman Ridley shone brightly wherever he went and in everything he did. He lit up the lives of everyone he encountered and won the hearts and minds of everyone he met. And everyone who encountered Norman will be aware of his never failing parting words: “God Bless”.

We certainly have all been truly blessed to have had him in our lives.

Keep shining Noman.

God Bless you always and forever more!

Thank you

A message from Adrian McDowell, Chair of Cycling Without Age Scotland’s Board of Trustees:

How do I sum up a wonderful man whom I had only known for such a short time?

What struck me most about him? His zest for life, the twinkle in his eye, his unbounding enthusiasm, his deep faith, his determination to make good things happen, the way he could inspire and engender the help of other people … and his wonderful sense of humour: last Christmas he chuckled as he gave me my Christmas present – a little plastic sign – “Chairman of the BORED!” I will treasure that.

Oh how I will miss his weekly call: ‘Norman here – how are you doing?’.His concern for others: he was always checking up on people to make sure they were OK.

Our Board meetings will never be the same: Norman – you sat at my left hand and now, when I look over, there will be nobody there – we will miss you terribly.

We are delighted to have been given this full page feature in The Scotsman which enthusiastically recognises our work. You can either see the feature below or  access the online version if you, click here

A version of the same feature was also published in the Edinburgh Evening News, which you can see below.

An Iconic Day for our Iconic Campaign!

Wednesday 18th August 2021 was a very important day for Cycling Without Age Scotland as we celebrated the launch of the first Chapter in our “Trishaws In Iconic Places” campaign, which was the highlight announcement at our last parliamentary reception. “Falkirk – Helix” will be our 53rd Chapter which, alongside the five Chapters already operating in the Falkirk district, will enable us to support and give pleasure to even more people.

This new Chapter’s first two Trishaws, funded by Communities Along The Carron Association and Falkirk Common Good Fund, were launched at the Helix. As that’s the home of the Kelpies, the Trishaws have been affectionately named after the Kelpies themselves, i.e. Duke and Baron. The naming ceremony was carried out by Scottish Canal’s Chief Operating Officer, Richard Millar, who was joined for the occasion by the Councillor Cecil Meiklejohn and several other dignitaries.

As the launch of this new Chapter coincided with Canal Encounters Cycling Week, it seemed only right that we should mark it with a special “long ride” – and so we did! Immediately after the naming ceremony, 10 Trishaws took twenty passengers on the four-mile traffic free canalside route from Helix Park to the Falkirk Wheel – and back again (after a bite of lunch!). What was already a joyful occasion was made even more so by the fabulous sunny weather.

Trishaws Duke and Baron started their careers in style that day and we are certain that they will create many ‘miles of smiles’ in the years to come as they journey through the lanes, trails and roads of Falkirk.

The “icing on the cake” for this heart-warming occasion was a super article in the Falkirk Herald which you can read if you, click here

Cycling Without Age Scotland appeared prominently in a feature in The Herald of 24th December 2020 headlined:

“How bravery, generosity and ingenuity united a nation!”

Click here to read a recent article published about Cycling Without Age Scotland. This is about us introducing an extension to our fleet or, as the Perth Courier put it:

“New all-terrain cycle will help Perth inclusivity group conquer new ground”

Two other articles demonstrate that, even in COVID-19 times, Cycling Without Age Scotland continues to play its part and serve its communities. The first, in the Falkirk Herald, shows the commitment of the Denny and Dunipace Chapter during lockdown:

The second, in the Perth and Kinross Courier (link below) shows how, like many other areas, Chapter members are not just spreading the word and making what we offer available to even more people, but are gearing up for post-Lockdown activity

Click here to read the story.

You can see other examples of media interest in Cycling Without Age Scotland on pages 44 and 45 of our last Annual Report here.

Annual Summit 2019

One of our most exciting items of news in the past year was our Cycling Without Age Scotland National Summit weekend, based at the Falkirk Stadium, at the end of August 2019.

The summit achieved a whole range of “firsts” – from the first time that Chapters from all round the country, as well as from Ireland and the USA, had gathered to get to know and learn from each other (as well as from specialist experts in a wide range of fields) to the first time in the UK that more than 20 Trishaws – and 60 people – had taken part in a “long ride” of more than 20km.

Workshops and presentations covered a wide range of topics, from batteries (an absolutely key element in successfully keeping Trishaws on the road) to using hoists safely to move passengers into the passenger ‘tubs’ and exercises to maintain pilots’ and passengers’ mobility and flexibility. There were also sessions led by Cycling Without Age Scotland’s specialist technical and maintenance consultants, GM4X, in all essential elements of Trishaw mechanics and maintenance.

It was an extremely sociable weekend too, with the wonderful spirit of camaraderie encapsulated in dinners and entertainment – led by Trustee and superb musician, Robin Miller – at Glenbervie Golf Club, where Cycling Without Age Scotland has its Head Office.

Sunday 31st August saw the extraordinary “Long Ride” as more than 20 Trishaws set off on a spectacular 20-kilometre journey along the beautiful banks of the River Carron, lunching at the Falkirk Wheel, with the ride culminating at Falkirk Football Stadium … via The Kelpies: all sights to treasure. If one journey demonstrates the joy that Cycling Without Age Scotland trishaw rides can bring, and that these amazing vehicles can go just about anywhere – street or path, town or country – this was it. Our video above tells the story and captures the brilliant feeling of the weekend.

Perhaps most extraordinary of all was the weather! It rained and was windy and chilly right up to the Sunday morning but, from the start of the ride to its conclusion, we were blessed with beautiful sunshine, warmth and bright blue, cloudless skies.

This was a major undertaking, and could not have been achieved without the generous support of so many people and organisations, including: Glenbervie Golf Club; Gordon Cullen of Easygo Cycles; Falkirk Football Club and Stadium; Gordon McGregor of GM4X; Joan Purdie of Newcarron Court Care Home; Police Scotland; The Falkirk Wheel; Lee Kelso of The Scottish Care Inspectorate; and of course all the delegates who joined us for the weekend.

Huge thanks, too, to Miller Crossan for donating the use of its “I’m Cycling Without Age” music track to make our video even more special.