Meet our volunteers: Richard Warburton

Richard Warburton is a tandem pilot for partially sighted riders at Bury Tandem Club
Richard Warburton is a retired firefighter who currently delivers fire and first aid training. In his spare time, he is also a tandem pilot for Cycling UK's affiliate group Bury Tandem Club for Partially Sighted and Blind People

Richard had been a keen cyclist for a number of years and, shortly after retirement from the fire service, he saw a piece in the local newspaper looking for volunteer tandem pilots for Bury Tandem Club for Partially Sighted and Blind People. It seemed the natural thing to do. Over a five-week rota, he tries to commit to at least two of the rides, helping people who might not otherwise be able to cycle to get out on bikes.

What I enjoy about being a pilot

It gives the opportunity for people to get out on the bike on a Sunday morning. There is also the fitness element, which we all benefit from. I also get to meet new people, something I really enjoy. I have become friends with some of these people outside of the Bury Tandem Club world.

Some of the other benefits are: learning new skills; improved personal fitness; and a much greater understanding of life’s challenges for blind and partially sighted people on a day-to-day basis.

How coronavirus has impacted the group

Stokers (the back rider on a tandem) and pilots have also got out individually where members have owned their own tandems. There is a WhatsApp group, which has allowed members to keep in touch and this has helped with our mental wellbeing.

The club is more active now than at any other time during the ten or eleven years that I have been a member. To my mind, the current time we find ourselves in has most definitely contributed to that. Although the club has been limited in its ability to ride due to the coronavirus restrictions, we have got out wherever possible. 

Are you a female-friendly group?

Females are more than welcome to participate in the group, and we have always had a number of female members during my time with the club. In my opinion, this situation can only encourage more females to join the group.

‘Go for it, it’ll enhance your life’

Richard Warburton, volunteer tandem pilot, Bury Tandem Club

How riding on the back of a tandem impacts group members

Conversations with members leads me to believe that long-term health conditions, as well as general health, have improved due to being a member of the club.

Becoming a tandem pilot 

Riding a tandem for the first time in itself is a challenge. Then the next challenge is learning to work ‘in tandem’ with your stoker. There are drills to learn in order to keep us safe, and each stoker has their own individual needs.

What I'm most proud of

I am just very proud to be a member of our superb club and the fact that it is most recently going from strength to strength.

My advice to someone considering becoming a volunteer tandem pilot

Without hesitation; go for it, it’ll enhance your life.

Get involved

Bury Tandem Club are currently looking for more tandem pilots so that even more people with sight issues can enjoy the benefits of cycling as stokers. 

Find out about other vacancies for tandem pilots through Cycling UK by searching our Volunteer Opportunities