The tandem bike
Tandem bikes have been a part of our history since we were founded in 1915, they are a unique and innovative way for blind veterans to safely travel about and exercise.
Back in 1920s, blind veteran Sergeant Alan Nicholls was challenged by a friend that he could not cycle 50 miles from London to Brighton. With £5 at stake, he took on the challenge. Although his orderly was not the fittest man, he agreed to ride on the front of a tandem to steer for him. This is the first time that Nicholls has ever ridden a tandem and they completed the 50 miles from Westminster to Brighton, in only 4 ¾ hours!
This amazing feat is all the more impressive because Nicholls was the only member of the charity to have survived World War One after having lost both his hands as well as his sight. He had prosthetic hands and used these to hold onto the tandem, as well as typing on a specially modified typewriter. After his mammoth cycle, Nicholls visited the Press Agency to tell them about his achievement and they published a story. In his book, Nicholls said: "It was rather wonderful to discover that I could cycle again, and after this I cycled to Leeds and back in one day (180 odd miles)."
During World War Two, the Tandem Cycle Club at Church Stretton was very popular. 18 members cycled all over the village accompanied by staff - covering over 460 in just the first 6 weeks of the clubs existence.
In 1991 we had our first blind veterans entered into the London to Brighton bike ride. We had 5 tandem pairs riding amongst the 35,000 cyclists. This was the beginning of far more organised tandem rides and our entry into more cycling events.
This is a book written by a former staff member and volunteer about the rich history of Blind Veterans UK.
Paddle Round the Pier is an charity beach and watersports festival held annually in Brighton.
Tennis was instrumental in fundraising activity for us in 1920s, as well as providing gainful employment for blind veterans.
At Blind Veterans UK, we take our cakes very seriously.
Two tactile grandfather clocks which stand in both in our Headquarters in London and at our oldest centre in Brighton were made by an extraordinary blind veteran named Fred Galway.