A group of volunteers laying on trishaw rides around Hawick for the elderly is now set to do so at the double.
The town’s trishaw group, part of the Cycling Without Age Scotland social enterprise, now plans to double its fleet of the three-wheeled rickshaw-type pedal bikes from one to two, thanks to a £7,000 grant from Hawick’s common good fund.
The group, launched last month, uses trishaws to take less mobile old folk on tours of the town’s Wilton Lodge Park and to help transport veterans around during events such as Remembrance Day parades.
Appearing at a meeting of the common good fund sub-committee last week, project volunteer Keith Irving told councillors: “Why do we need another trishaw? We’re getting by at the moment with one, but the weather’s been particularly bad, and it’s still early days for the group.
“However, as organisations and local people get to know about us, and also the weather improves, it is likely our numbers will increase greatly, and we don’t want to disappoint people.
“Our project is up and running and is proving popular with people of all ages.
“We have eight pilots currently, with five more wanting to get trained up at the moment.
“We have approximately £1,600 ringfenced, and we’ve received excellent feedback so far from passengers.
“For the memorial parade, if we get another trishaw, then that’s four veterans we can take round next year, rather than the two we had this year.”
“Of all the people in Hawick, 25.4% are over 65, and that is expected to rise to 35% in the next 15 years.
“In Teviot and Liddesdale, 34% of people have expressed that they feel lonely or isolated.
“Our project certainly gets them out in the park, and if you see their faces as we take them around, it’s just brilliant.
“We also encourage volunteering. It is all done by volunteers and is all free.”
Speaking in support of the application, Hawick and Hermitage councillor Watson McAteer said: “I’ve had a go on them, and I’m pretty impressed. I know this is quite expensive, but this ticks the box in so many different ways, not least the point about getting people out and about.
“With the cycle path, what a great opportunity to get the trishaws out and get them on the track.
“I was very impressed on Remembrance Day when they got ex-servicemen in them to see what’s going on.
“It’s just one of these tools that has come along to help people get out and about.
“In terms of this project, as expensive as it may be, I just think it’s worth doing.”
The group – currently operating from 10am to 3pm Friday to Monday – is now planning to extend its operations beyond Wilton Lodge Park and possibly cover rugby games at Mansfield Park too.