MaryClare lives and breathes inclusive cycling. Working as a physiotherapist at Leonard Cheshire she helped establish Wheels for All in Gloucestershire. As well as offering people of all abilities the opportunity to experience the joy of cycling MaryClare delivers outreach to people of all ages and works with organisations to make cycling more inclusive.
MaryClare Faulkner said…
“As a child I cycled for fun and enjoyment and as an adult, cycling is my main means of transport and still enjoyable.
“In 2011, while working as a physiotherapist for Leonard Cheshire, I needed to find an adapted trike to enable one of our residents to cycle in the first Leonard Cheshire Tri-Together Triathlon at Crystal Palace Park in London.
“My subsequent first encounter with inclusive cycling was through the national charity “Cycling Projects” and it changed my life. Over the next couple of years I discovered three important things;
- The residents loved being able to cycle on inclusive, adapted bikes
- Cycling Projects has a national network of “Wheels For All” centres
- There wasn’t a “Wheels For All” centre in Gloucestershire.
“From late 2013 onwards I worked with Leonard Cheshire, Cycling Projects, the Inclusion Officer at the County Sports Partnership ‘Active Gloucestershire’, Forestry England, the Gloucestershire Athletics Track Management Ltd and Tomcat SNI Ltd to ensure that “Gloucestershire Wheels For All” became a reality.
“By late December 2016 I knew that I wanted to lead the project and take it forwards, so I left the physiotherapy profession (after over 35 years) and since January 2017 have been living and breathing inclusive cycling, while still working with Leonard Cheshire as part of their Community Engagement team.
It is the most wonderful privilege being able to facilitate the opportunity for people to get back to cycling regularly or to discover it for the first time, whatever their age or ability, in safe, off-road environments
“It is the most wonderful privilege being able to facilitate the opportunity for people to get back to cycling regularly or to discover it for the first time, whatever their age or ability, in safe, off-road environments. We deliver at least two 6-hour sessions per week at the Blackbridge Athletics Track in Gloucester and regular 4 to 5-hour sessions along beautiful forest trails in the Forest of Dean.
“We also deliver outreach inclusive cycling sessions around Gloucestershire; we take the bikes to residential homes for older people to experience the joys of cycling again, as well as to Cycling Festivals, Special Olympics and other fully inclusive events.
“We work with health, educational and social care organisations around the county and are constantly looking at ways to reach more organisations and to make the bikes as widely available as possible.
“My project assistant and I would not manage without our amazing volunteers who faithfully turn up in all weathers to facilitate the sessions and to help us keep the well-used bikes maintained.
“We offer volunteering and work experience opportunities for school, college and university students. Cycling participants range from ages 5 to 95; even younger siblings and babes in arms come along. It is brilliant seeing whole families cycling together in the Sunday afternoon and school holiday sessions and amazing to notice the children getting taller and ‘growing into’ the bikes that were initially too large for them.
“The numbers attending have been steadily increasing since January 2017, and the first two weeks of March 2020 up to the lockdown were our busiest yet!
“We are currently looking at compliant ways of resuming the sessions within a Covid 19 environment – watch this space.”
MaryClare was nominated for the 100 Women in Cycling by Nazia White who said:
"I believe without individuals like MaryClare the joy, thrill and freedom of cycling would not be experienced by the disabled community.
“MaryClare inspires me because her ambition and drive to make cycling accessible to everyone is unyielding.
“From organising the sessions that take place at two off-road locations: the Blackbridge Athletics Track in Gloucester; and at the Cannop Cycle Centre, with Pedalabikeaway, in the beautiful Forest of Dean to managing volunteers, logistics and a fleet of adaptive bikes and trikes, MaryClare’s passion for what she does is humbling.
“She has recently helped source the right bike for one of her regular riders. Without MaryClare’s perseverance Sue would not have been able to achieve her dream of cycling. [Read the full story of how MaryClare helped Sue]
“I believe without individuals like MaryClare the joy, thrill and freedom of cycling would not be experienced by the disabled community."