Diary of a Dyslexic Cyclist's Charity Fundraiser

Sue Kerrigan and Claire Wiltsher love a challenge and 2012 is the year for Olympic sized challenges so they set out on a journey of 212 miles and raise funds and awareness for the BDA.

Sue Kerrigan is the busy Dyslexic business owner of www.letmelearn.co.uk and a tutor helping children in Hampshire overcome Dyslexia and succeed at school.  Sue also works with Chiltern Tutorial School – a school for Dyslexic children near Winchester in Hampshire.  Claire is a landscape artist in Hampshire.  Sue’s company Let Me Learn sponsored the event.

Sue and Claire are both keen cyclists but not very good at fixing punctures and reading maps!  So this challenge was more than the challenge of cycling – it was about being self sufficient with no support team to back them up should there be a problem (and there were) and being able to navigate the route without getting lost (they did).

Their journey took them from Southampton down to Poole (where they suffered their first puncture – right outside a bike shop) to catch the ferry to Guernsey, across to Jersey and then Granville in France.  The last 2 days they cycled up to Cherbourg to catch the ferry to Portsmouth and the finish line.  They raised almost £600 for the BDA.

Sue kept a digital diary on route which she shared with the many supporters on Facebook, here are some exerts:

Sunday 15th July

It’s been a day of many emotions. Excitement and dreadful nerves with the worry of getting lost – we did and the implications of missing the ferry – disastrous.  A puncture followed by instant relief of breaking down right outside a bike shop then the realisation that I was publicising the fact that I am Dyslexic. With the banners on my bike and our noticeable fluorescent mohawk helmets, I felt the world was judging me, exposed. I got nervous, worried and upset. That’s odd because I make no secret of the fact I am Dyslexic but maybe I’m still in denial – or was. Then I realised Claire was wearing the signs too and she’s not Dyslexic so we laughed lots and got on with it. On the ferry we sat in our seats had food and started to relax.  A lovely couple asked us to move because we were in the wrong seats. I read 59 as 56, ahh, no point denying it!

On the rough crossing to Guernsey we met 2 surgeons who work in Africa & are educating the locals about Dyslexia.  Arriving in Guernsey we cycled to the hotel and had to walk our bikes through a crowd of mostly young drunk holiday makers, we thought we would get a lot of jibes about our signs but we didn’t, instead a lady ran after us and donated £10 because her son is Dyslexic.  This indicated to me that the word is getting out that Dyslexic does not mean thick or stupid.

 

Monday 16st July

Today the plan was to cycle round Guernsey but my tyre must have suffered from the puncture and had an interesting ‘s’ shaped bulge so we had to make a bee-line for the nearest bike shop for repairs.  The young lad who changed the tyre said his mum is Dyslexic and he is too.  There seems to be a theme going on here.  BBC Radio Jersey called to ask me to come into the studio for the Breakfast Show to help raise awareness of the Dyslexia and visual stress petitions.

 

Tuesday 17th July

Early start for the radio interview followed by rewarding hot chocolate and a cycle round Jersey and down to the many bays and up the gruelling hills!  Anne Kent from the Jersey Dyslexia Association was also on the radio and we met up with the JDA that evening to find out all about the wonderful work they do supporting people in Jersey.  We met a very talented sand sculptor who heard the radio interview.  He told us that he is Dyslexic and struggles most with filling in forms.  He said he has felt awful dealing with the Council. His view is that white collar workers treat him as if he is thick and stupid because of his issues with reading and writing.

 

Claire and I have noticed that we have gravitated towards Dyslexic people & parents of Dyslexic child and not just because we are wearing our banners – because of what we are interested in and the types of jobs Dyslexic people do: hands on – artists, bike repairs for example. So we have made an effort today to go out of our comfort zone and speak to people about Dyslexia and ask them if they want to ask us any questions. This has been interesting as people open up and tell you about their experience of Dyslexia – friend/ colleague/boss who has Dyslexia. It maybe my imagination but it feels like Dyslexia is more than 10% of the population.

 

Wednesday 18th July

Prince Charles and Camilla are in Jersey, we line up to show are banners but sadly he just waves and drives on.

 

Thursday 19th July

Bonjour La France, the map is out and we are ready to navigate!  It’s a lot easier navigating to towns as apposed to finding B&B’s.  Rather pleased about navigating to a cycle route which will take us most of the way to Cherbourg without cars and lorries hurtling past us!

 

Friday 20th July

The end of the cycle route loomed but we need not have worried as it carried on to Cherbourg on very steep but minor roads.  Our knees are hurting but feel grateful that this is our only worry and not a navigation or bike issue!

We arrived at the Port in good time and good cheer for our photo finish (a few homeward bound holiday makers snapped a few shots too) a winners plate of chips  and a final donation of 20 Euros from a man who’s son is Dyslexic.

 All our donations on route came from people with direct connections with Dyslexia.

So the question this cycle ride has raised for me is how does the Dyslexia aware and Dyslexic community involve those that feel they have no connection? If they were aware and involved and felt it was something they should have an understanding of, that Dyslexia does not mean you are thick or stupid, just different, but only as different as the difference between an Engineer and an Artist, a Doctor and a Soldier or a Postman and a Scientist then 10% – (6 million people or more) and 80% of the prison population (64,000) would be accepted and supported for who they are and what they can do rather than what they can’t do.

Thanks so much to all the people that donated and supported us on our Olympic sized challenge for the BDA.

You can still sponsor us here: http://www.justgiving.com/letmelearn

 

Sue Kerrigan is a Private Tutor teaching children with multisensory learning resources

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