Black Isle Men's Shed unveils trishaw plan for local villages
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A community group has set wheels in motion on a major fundraiser aimed at giving older and less-mobile residents the 'freedom' of two neighbouring villages.
Black Isle Men’s Shed will seek to raise £18,000 to buy two semi-electric trikes, known as trishaws, to enable those in Fortrose and Rosemarkie who struggle to get out and about to feel the wind in their hair.
It is not yet known when the pedal taxis might begin rolling to local beauty spots like Chanonry Point and Rosemarkie beach, cafés and other attractions – but an army of 20 volunteers have already been trained for the task.
Chairman of Men’s Shed, Steve Bramwell, explained: “It is very similar to what’s already been done in Inverness, with the likes of Spokes for Folks, and by Cromarty Trikes.
“We have a new care home here in Fortrose and Rosemarkie and we felt it would be good to repeat the initiative here as well.
“We’re now in the business of trying to raise some money to buy these trikes, which are semi-electric, but we’ve been given a loan of one by Cycling Without Age Scotland, our parent charity.
“The idea came to me originally because I knew this care home was opening and felt it would be a good opportunity to just get the community involved with staff and residents, and raise awareness of volunteering and things like that.
“Every little Black Isle village has its own ethos, I think, and with a lot of growth in new houses around us, and we really want to ensure people have the opportunity to feel part of the community.
“Sometimes common projects like this can be of value in bringing people together and getting people involved.
“A few of our guys at the Men’s Shed have already taken cycling courses and are keen on cycling. We all got together and decided the Men’s Shed would support a community initiative in this area.”
Mick Heath, who runs the successful Spokes for Folks initiative in Inverness, came and gave a training session and lent a trike to practise on.
Lesley Clunas, one of the Men’s Shed committee members, has since trained up about 20 pilots and a six-strong community steering group has been formed to raise the cash needed to buy two of the Danish-made trishaws.
Alan McCaffrey, who is Fortrose and Rosemarkie chapter captain with Cycling Without Age Scotland, said: “It was heart warming today for the Fortrose and Rosemarkie steering group to meet face-to-face for the first time.
“Cycling Without Age Scotland have loaned this machine to allow people to see what we are trying to achieve.
“We are fundraising to purchase our own trike locally, so that we can give fresh air and mobility to people locally who may normally be unable to get out and about.
“With the Parklands Eilean Dubh Care Home newly opened, we are eager to raise funds to go live in the community as soon as safely possible.”
Cycling Without Age Scotland will now help the group secure grants and charitable funds, while a big local fundraising drive is also planned in the coming weeks and months.