David's story - life after a stroke

Cycling has helped David to claim back a part of his life before the stroke
David was a keen cyclist until a stroke significantly reduced his mobility and took his speech. After hearing about the All Ability Cycling project, David decided to give it ago, and he's not looked back since.

David Watts was passionate about cycling and would cycle long distances, often covering up to several thousand miles a year. Then, in January 2013, he suffered a stroke, which severely impaired his physical mobility. Because of this, David had to stop riding his bike.

After hearing that he used to cycle, David’s physiotherapist casually mentioned the All Ability Cycling Project. They had seen positive progress on the scheme with some of their other stroke patients, and felt that it might help to boost David’s self esteem.

David’s wife, Sue made contact with Cycling UK Cycling Development Officer, Steve Marsden, and David was invited to attend one of the regular weekly open sessions at Hillsborough to see what might be possible. Sue said, “During that first session our hearts were in our mouths. David decided to wear his yellow cycling jersey for luck. We need not have worried.”

The look of pride and achievement on his face was one that everyone present that day will never forget! Cycling has given David the opportunity to do physical activity but also to claim back a part of his life before the stroke.

Sue WattsDavid's wife

After a quick chat, Steve introduced David to a sturdy three wheeler and with the minimum of instruction and supervision he was off. “The look of pride and achievement on his face was one that everyone present that day will never forget!”

David enjoyed the session so much that within two days of that initial Hillsborough session, David had decided that he wanted to get a suitable cycle of his own. David’s son made contact with Kinetics in Glasgow, an adapted bike stockist who very generously loaned David a recumbent trike to try over a weekend.

At the following session, the trike was modified to make it suitable for David, and - carefully following Steve Marsden’s advice on how to get on - he was soon settled. David was able to cycle fast even in the first few minutes, nearly losing his escort in the process. David was thrilled and a cycle was ordered. The trike finally arrived on Christmas Eve, the very same day that he had to be readmitted to hospital with a life-threatening pulmonary embolism! He had to wait another two weeks until the weather and his health improved.

On his first expedition he was able to cover about a mile and a half in Rotherham’s Clifton Park. He attracted a great deal of positive attention that day. 

Since then, David has progressed a great deal and has attended many other sessions with his grandchildren. The sessions provide the facility for David to cycle and also give David the opportunity to cycle with others. "Without the volunteers, I wouldn’t be able to move the trike from the van on my own," he says.

Sheffield Cycling 4 All is one of over 40 Cycling UK-accredited clubs in the UK that are part of the National Inclusive Cycling Network - a partnership between Cycling UK and Cycling Projects, that is funded through the Big Lottery Fund. Case study by David's wife, Sue.