MEMBERS of the Bridge of Allan and Dunblane Rotary Club gave a warm welcome to Ken Reid last week as he discussed his mammoth charity fundraiser.

In April of this year, Ken had visited the club to talk about his blindness and the work of the Royal National Institution of Blind People (RNIB).

As members learned then, Ken hasn’t allowed blindness to stop him living a full and active life.

This year, being the 30th anniversary of him being diagnosed with retina pigmentosa, which led to his loss of sight, Ken decided that he should mark it by taking on a special challenge.

He settled on raising money for one of his favourite causes: Talking Books.

For all of us, books are a means of opening up new worlds; for those sight-impaired people, the ability to access books through the RNIB Talking Books gives them an opportunity to explore and share in a wide range of experiences.

Each adult Talking Book costs some £2,500 to sponsor, with children’s books costing £1,500. In addition to supporting Talking Books, Ken had another aim: he wanted “to show what blind and partially sighted people can achieve".

Having a lifelong love of cycling, Ken decided to do an epic sponsored cycle journey from Edinburgh to London.

But not satisfied with that being sufficiently challenging, he decided that he should extend the route to include the capital cities of the British Isles.

So his route became from Edinburgh to Belfast, to Dublin, to Cardiff and then on to London – a total journey of about 750 miles, undertaken in some 17 days.

To succeed in this venture, he needed volunteers to take the front position on a tandem, known as the pilot, while he would act as the power-house – the stoker on the rear seat.

Willing volunteers soon came forward and Ken set off from Holyrood on July 29 with the good wishes of representatives from the media, RNIB and the Provost of Edinburgh.

Ken was accompanied throughout by Haggeye – a mascot for junior members of the RNIB, but he also received a very treasured tribute: good wishes from Sir Chris Hoy written on Ken’s helmet.

In planning the route, Ken had tried to avoid roads with heavy traffic and extremely steep hills, though not always successfully, as experience proved.

But the crucial element that ensured the success of the challenge was the encouragement from the volunteer pilots and from other cyclists and the general public.

Wherever they stopped for the necessary top-ups or at overnight stays and ferry crossings, people were enormously encouraging, and very generous in giving donations.

Other cyclists, hearing about the trip, rode with Ken for part of the way to give him support.

Having passed successfully though Scotland and Ireland, Ken came to his greatest trial: a route through Wales which involved a one in four gradient and a climb of 6,000 feet in the course of a 70-mile journey.

At one point he admitted: “I was not too proud to get off the tandem and to walk up a particularly steep hill.”

However, all went well, with the finish of the journey at the Houses of Parliament, 17 days after leaving Edinburgh.

Ken’s achievement in terms of sponsorship has far surpassed his initial target of £7,500. To date he has raised just over £11,500, and sponsorship is still coming in.

Ken’s progress on his journey can be followed on Donations can be made to or by texting CCLE £n to 70070.

Following some questions to Ken about his experiences on his marathon journey, Glen Montgomery, speaker’s host, congratulated him on an inspiring achievement.

The meeting of the Rotary Club on Thursday, October 27, will be held at the Westlands Hotel, Doune Road, at 6.00 for 6.30pm.

The speaker will be Gillian Forster who will talk about green routes at the Gartmore Gardens.

Visitors to the club are always very welcome . Anyone interested in attending should contact the club secretary Iain Fraser at or by calling 01786 822751.

More information can be found on the club website at or at