Residents at seven care homes are quite literally getting on their bikes to enjoy the beauty of the New Forest.
Colten Care has joined forces with PedALL which provides cycling sessions for people who face a barrier, such as lack of mobility, to accessing the New Forest off-road cycle network.
Up to 200 residents at Colten Care homes in Brockenhurst, Mudeford, Lymington, New Milton and Salisbury will be savouring nature at first hand from the comfort of their specially adapted bikes during the summer.
So far residents at Colten Care’s Linden House and Court Lodge homes in Lymington have enjoyed the cycling sessions with organisers describing the feedback as “absolutely fantastic.”
Ben Benson-Breen, Senior Companionship Team Leader, said: “For some of our residents, it’s the first time they have been back in the saddle for many decades.
“The reaction has ranged from ‘I never thought I would do this again’ to ‘I can feel all my anxiety blowing out of the window.’
“The volunteers at PedALL, as well as our own companionship team, are brilliant in not just accompanying our residents but doing the hard physical work of pedalling the bikes.
“We have lots more rides booked over the summer and are also running a study to discover the impact on our residents, ranging from changes in self-confidence and communication to social interaction and mood.”
One of the latest rides involved seven residents from Court Lodge who enjoyed a 30 minute ride in the New Forest from PedALL’s Burley base.
The route followed paths allowing close-up contact with everything from flowering heathers to New Forest ponies. The length of the bike rides ranged from one to three miles.
Graham Burley, 86, who was accompanied by his daughter, Sue, said: “It’s been enormous fun and I’ve really enjoyed it.”
Gareth Jones, PedALL’s Inclusive Cycle Ride Leader, added: “You really do get close to nature on these rides and the reaction from those taking part is always positive. It’s hard work doing the pedalling but very rewarding.”