After losing her father in March 2018, Narinder Kaur, an intensive care nurse from Walsall in the West Midlands, struggled to cope with her grief. A chance encounter in the park with a Community Cycle Club gave her a new lease of life. She is now a ride leader who selflessly gives up her time to help others experience the many benefits of cycling.
"In 2018, my family experienced the sudden death of my father, who was planning a holiday back to his motherland when he was suddenly taken ill. On the day of his flight to India, Dad was rushed into hospital, and in less then 24 hours he passed away. The sudden loss of my much loved father for all of my family was enormous. Dealing with grief became difficult and overpowering and nothing was helping to console me, until I discovered cycling by chance, a skill I'd never learned in my youth.
"One day, I found myself in Walsall Arboretum Park, an area my father loved and where he once took his regular walks. I bumped into Steve, a volunteer for both Walsall Arboretum Community Cycling Club (WACCC) and Walsall Bike Project. Little did I know, WACCC was going to become a huge part of my life and help me come to terms with my loss.
"The positive impact of learning to cycle has become a huge accomplishment and achievement of a lifelong goal but, more importantly, part of my life.
"In the same year I started cycling, I was given the opportunity to undertake a ride leaders course and become a volunteer ride leader for the cycling group. Being a ride leader gave me confidence, the opportunity to meet people and have fun, learn and share about cycling.
Not being able to express yourself due to a language barrier, mental ill-health, or even physical ill-health should not be seen as a hindrance for participation or in learning
"Volunteering gave me the opportunity to give back to the community by helping others and see first hand the positive effect cycling has. Not being able to express yourself due to a language barrier, mental ill-health, or even physical ill-health should not be seen as a hindrance for participation or in learning.
"The last three years of volunteering have allowed me to give back to the community by helping people of all ages to grow in their own confidence through cycling. Each individual is unique, and watching and encouraging them to learn through their own determination to ride a bike, can be amazing.
"In each area I have volunteered, I have enjoyed immensely, whether I've been painting the storage container, participating in learn-to-ride sessions, or leading rides. You may ask why volunteer? Well, simply helping others less fortunate than myself gives me a great sense of achievement. Cycling has helped me to meet people and make friends as well as become part of the community.
As a healthcare provider, I wish I could prescribe everyone to have a go on a bike
"As a healthcare provider, I wish I could prescribe everyone to have a go on a bike. Encouraging more people to take up cycling would benefit them both physically and mentally, but to do this we need to improve our infrastructure to keep both young and old safe. This would have a domino effect: by reducing our carbon footprint and caring for the environment, we'll leave a healthy legacy for the next generation."
Narinder was nominated for the 100 Women in Cycling by Lesley Easter, who said:
"Narinder has been a great asset to all of the Walsall Community Cycle Club. Since learning how to ride a bicycle in 2018, soon after the loss of her father, she has embraced cycling with a selfless attitude to help others take to two wheels. She's a keen volunteer. She is very caring in her working life, as a nurse at New Cross Hospital, and she continues this trait in her volunteer work. She's a good listener, a friend to all and she passes on her ever growing knowledge of cycling. She has not been formally recognised for her contribution to the community and the 100 Women in Cycling is the ideal platform."