Why I love my bike; community-centred support changed my life

Caroline Waugh, National Co-production Advisory Group
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How cycling transformed Caroline’s Waugh’s life and enabled her to become an advocate for co-production, and a disabled health champion – as well as a TV appearance in Saved and Remade.

November 2020, and life looked bleak. Covid was on the increase, and to be fair I felt that with winter drawing in I was retreating into my shell to hibernate. As I read through the usual emails one sprang out, ‘People wanted for new TV series’. I was immediately energised and read on eagerly. It turned out to be one of those programmes that have become really popular on television where they transform a treasured item. Usually a tea pot, or lamp, or item of jewellery. Now I am not at all materialistic, for me it’s about how something or somebody made me feel. But absolutely nothing, and I really mean this, has made me happier than my Greenspeed GT5 trike.

I quickly typed out why my trike was special - it turned my life around 

I had been a struggling disabled single Mum, with a mobility problem and not a lot of hope of independence. Back then I was a downtrodden, frumpy mother with a long list of health conditions. My disability was caused by a car accident at the age of 21. Now I am part of the National Co-production Advisory Group advising the government, amongst others, about the best to way co-produce and work alongside people with lived experience.   

My trike gave me independence. I could take my own children to school. My visits to the GP had gone down from once a month to the point where they phoned me as they said they were ‘missing me!’  Cycling was introduced into my care plan with my social worker. That meant I didn’t need a Personal Assistant so I used this money to join the gym - overall it made my direct payment cheaper.

Cycling UK bought me the love of my life which was my Greenspeed trike. I was doing so much to promote disability cycling and this changed my way of life. I became the first disabled Health Champion in Sheffield, I set-up the organisation Sheffield Cycling 4 All, one of the organisations that now features on the directory of innovations in community-centred support, with Steve Marsden, the Cycling Development Officer from Cycling UK. I became an obsessive volunteer, and promoter, firstly of cycling but it unearthed a real calling in me which was my sense of social justice.

I think the real selling point to Saved and Remade, was the fact that I had carried my beautiful and so precious us 2012 Olympic Torch, whilst riding my trike.

I had cycled right back to being me again. Then I got ill with cancer and broke my leg so needed an electric trike (a bike with a battery and pedal assist.) My old trike, which was my main vehicle was now banished to the cold shed, with buckets, spades and bags of jumble covering it.

I enclosed a picture of the make and model, and pressed send. The phone rang immediately. How excited was I to be invited to the studio!

Me and my trike reunited 

Covid cases were rising and the film studio was in Kirklees, a designated a Tier 3 zone, which meant travel was hard.  The logistics were very difficult. Everyone was keeping their distance, but I had to get my trike out from under the buckets, spades and bags of jumble, take it apart, fold it. And get it into a car! With the help of a dynamic, smiley producer called Sadie, who had bright red talons to die for. A very helpful neighbour saved Sadie’s nails and offered to help me.

I was shielding at the time, considered extremely vulnerable, which really limited whose car I could travel to Kirklees in. Thank goodness, for my big brother, whose family were my bubble. He is always there for my glitzy moments. 

I had spent ages selecting my carefully torn and ‘distressed’ jeans, a nice new top. I hadn't worn make up for eight months, this felt weird. I hadn’t seen anyone for months, and now millions were going to see me. I cycled in on my trike, met the lovely presenters, and my nerves disappeared. I chose Jon’s creation, which would transform my beloved trike with its striking yellow and red seat into a chair, which I’m sitting in now as I write this. And the wheels made a lovely lamp, which is actually my favourite of the two.

Unfortunately, due to Covid restrictions, I couldn’t go back to the studio for the big reveal, which would have been nice because I would have liked them to see how pleased I was with the finished items.

Now my trike is in from the cold, where it belongs and I use it every day.


Posted on by Kate Sibthorp

This is a great story, Caroline. I love that it's about what matters to YOU and how it illustrates the importance and value of everyone being able to live their own individual life doing things they're passionate about. I'm quite jealous of your very unique lamp! And I enjoyed watching the programme as well. Kate x

Posted on by Paula Fairweather

What an inspiration you are Caroline. This is a fantastic blog which provides a great insight into individual co produced personalised care, proving that what matters to an individual counts and makes a difference not just to them but those around them too. Your determination and passion shines through. Thank you for sharing your story. I loved the tv program too and love seeing you enjoying your beloved trike on a daily basis.
X Paula X

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