A NEW Ayrshire tandem cycling club for the visually impaired has picked up the pace since launching almost a year ago.

It was set up by Kilwinning man Andrew Lannigan, 68, who was a keen cyclist until he lost most of his sight following a couple of strokes a decade ago.

Now, what started out as a few vision-impaired people and a couple of volunteer pilots has blossomed into the fully-fledged and properly-constituted North Ayrshire Tandem Cycling Club.

And they now have nine vision impaired members and 12 fully trained pilots to assist them on their travels around the county.

A delighted Andrew said: "It is all down to the dedication and skills of our volunteer pilots, who give up their time and efforts to look after our vision impaired members safety and wellbeing.

"Having a vision impairment is such a debilitating condition and it isolates you away from the general public. The tandem cycling club combats that by getting vision impaired people out of isolation and back into the general community again.

Andrew said he was desperate to get back out on the bike again following his sight problems.

Today, he has only a small window of peripheral vision sight.

He revealed: "I want to get out and about but I am no good in crowds because of my sight problems.

"I started this group to allow individuals like myself to get back into cycling with the help of a tandem mountain bike and fully sighted pilot."

Andrew added: "Funding has been a key part of our success with groups like Cycling UK, Cycle Share Fund, Community PB Fund, Sport Scotland Fund and many more, granting us the funding that has helped us achieve our dream.

"We now have new tandems, our own cycle kit and a place to call a base for safe storage of our tandems and equipment.

"A very special thank you goes out to Rab and Caroline, at Greenacres Caravan Park in Stevenston, for granting us permission to house our lockfast premises on their grounds.

"We also organised a social night, where we got to meet the friends and families of our members.

"We take part in club rides every Sunday and sometimes during the week, ranging from 15 miles up to 45 miles, with a coffee stop on the way for a chat and some good banter."

North Ayrshire Tandem Cycling is always looking for new members, be it vision impaired or fully sighted people, to at least come along and try out a tandem.

Andrew added: "It's great fun and gets you out and about in the fresh air, meeting new people."

Find out more by searching for 'North Ayrshire Tandem Cycling' on Facebook.