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The University of Southampton

Charity tandem ride down the Rhine for Gift of Sight

Published: 10 June 2008
Charity tandem ride

Two Romsey Rotarians will soon be cycling 820 miles along the River Rhine on a tandem to raise money for the Gift of Sight charity, founded by the University of Southampton.

Bill Gidley, husband of Romsey MP Sandra Gidley, and fellow Rotarian Graham Lee will don their cycling gear on Sunday (15 June) to begin their sponsored journey down the River Rhine. The trip will see them pass through Switzerland, Germany, France and The Netherlands.

Bill and Graham, both members of the Rotary Club of Romsey Test, are strong supporters of Gift of Sight as Bill has battled with macular degeneration since his late teens. Up until a few years ago, he had still managed to ride a push bike with reasonable confidence. Eventually the slow and gradual deterioration of his sight got to a point where cycling on unknown roads was no longer very safe.

He comments: “I was on the point of hanging up my cycling clips for good, when one of my Rotary Club colleagues came up with a very kind offer of piloting a tandem, if one could be found. We borrowed a tandem and the bug bit.”

In 2006 Bill and Graham rode their tandem from Land’s End to John O’Groats, raising over £7,000 for charity, and this led to them discussing other ‘big rides’. They finally decided on cycling along the route of the Rhine which, starting in Switzerland and ending at the North Sea, is a very similar distance to the previous ride.

Ailsa Walter from Gift of Sight, Bill Gidley, Graham Lee and Professor Andrew Lotery
Charity tandem ride for Gift of Sight

Follow Bill and Graham’s progress by logging on to . During the ride, the website will have a daily blog and the pair’s progress will be displayed on a map, thanks to support by SPOT GPS.

If you would like to sponsor Bill and Graham’s cycle ride, please contact Ailsa Walter at Gift of Sight or telephone 023 8059 9073. Donations may be made through

Notes for editors

    • The Gift of Sight Appeal was founded by Professor Andrew Lotery at the University of Southampton in July 2004 with the aim of funding world-class research into the prevention and treatment of blindness. The main areas of research are age-related macular degeneration, the commonest cause of blindness in the western world, glaucoma and nystagmus. An adult stem cell programme should lead to better treatments for a variety of eye conditions, including cone dystrophies, retinitis pigmentosa, diabetic retinopathy and age related macular degeneration.
    • Gift of Sight is an appeal managed by the University of Southampton Development Trust Reg. Charity No.295753.
    • The ride will commence on Sunday 15 June and the ‘team’ will start the journey from the source of the Rhine in Andermatt, Switzerland, and end just beyond Rotterdam, at the Hook of Holland, where the river meets the North Sea. This is a distance of some 820 miles.
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