Deb's story - patient to cycle instructor

Deb's life was changed by Wheels for Wellbeing
Two knee operations put a temporary end to Deb Garbutt’s ability to cycle. Then she joined a Wheels for Wellbeing session. Now, she’s not only cycling again but she’s a qualified cycle instructor too!

I was in hospital again at the Elective Orthopaedic Centre having my left knee replaced just six months after having the same operation on my right knee. My surgeon stated: “You won’t ever be able to ride your bicycle again, but you should be grateful you can walk!” That statement shattered my world, I just didn’t realise it then but depression started to become part of my life. I’d always ridden my bike from when I was a child – even when it caused me a great deal of pain to do so. It was such an important part of me.

Then I came across Wheels For Wellbeing (WFW) – my saviours! I inquired about joining and turned up to one of the sessions. There I spoke to a friendly chap named Jim, who only had one leg but could still cycle. I remember thinking that if he could do it, so could I.

If it wasn’t for Wheels for Wellbeing helping me back into cycling, I know I wouldn’t have the same quality of life that I have now.

Deb Garbutt, rider, volunteer and ambassador at Wheels For Wellbeing

On my first ride, a kind gentleman agreed to man a two-person cycle with me, which allowed my knees to go through the cycling motions without putting too much strain on them.

Week by week, I took more of an active role in cycling until the great day came when I rode my own two-wheeler for the first time in almost two years.

Since that day, my life has changed for the better. I have ridden in a number of different women-only rides, including Cycletta (40km) and Breeze rides (31 miles). I’m even a trained Breeze Champion so I can lead rides of up to eight women myself.

I also volunteer one morning a week with WFW because I would like to pay back a little of what they have given me. If it wasn’t for Wheels for Wellbeing helping me back into cycling, I know I wouldn’t have the same quality of life that I have now.

In February 2014, Deb qualified as a cycle instructor and has worked at the WFW drop-in sessions. She also regularly drives the Zip Van to deliver outreach cycling sessions at special needs schools. Deb is an ambassador, representing WFW and giving talks about cycling at community events.

Wheels For Wellbeing 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.

For more information about inclusive cycling in the South East, contact Tim Janes