Roy Cochrane talks about Moving Towards Inclusion with the Talking Tandems

This audio was created using Microsoft Azure Speech Services

Roy on his tandem bike

At Schneider Electric, we celebrate all abilities and value our people’s unique differences. We want our employees to feel welcomed and safe to be at their best, with our ambition to be the most diverse, inclusive, and equitable company, globally. Our Diversity & Inclusion ambition is to provide equal opportunities to everyone everywhere and to ensure all employees feel uniquely valued and safe to contribute their best.

On December 3rd we will be celebrating the United Nations International Day of Persons with Disabilities.  We want to educate employees about key concepts to foster empathy and to become allies for our colleagues and their family members who have disabilities. Under the main theme, “I am Me, I am Unique, I am Schneider.

In recognition of International Day of Persons with Disabilities in the UK&I, we heard from our colleague Roy Cochrane, an experienced Software Design Engineer, about the fabulous work he undertakes with the charity, Talking Tandems and how he moving towards inclusion.

“A few years ago, I joined a charitable Fife-based tandem cycling club called Talking Tandems which is made up of members who are both sighted and blind / partially sighted, the former being the tandem pilots and the latter the stokers. The club has a membership of all ages from those in their twenties through to their seventies and who enjoy cycling for leisure.

A typical group cycle takes place on a weekend every few weeks and involves on average a 30 to 40 mile round trip either from our bike shed at Dalgety Bay or a circular route from a start location a bit further afield. Members take turns helping with the committee to organise runs, planning the route, collecting names of participants, choosing pilot and stoker pairings, assigning bikes, and planning on how to get everyone to the start location.

When everyone arrives on the day you pair up with your stoker, the tandems are rolled out of the shed, given a check over to make sure they are in working order, pedals attached, saddles set to the correct height, and a quick test run around the car park to make sure all is good to go. Just before setting off we go around the group, in turn, to say who we are and who we are cycling with just so everyone present knows who is there and out on that day’s cycle.

Bike with slogan "Talking Tandems, moving towards inclusion"

And off we go – 3, 2, 1…  being the typical instruction from the pilot so the stoker knows when to kick off and start peddling.

It’s hard to imagine what it must be like to be a stoker on the back of the tandem, not able to see where they are going, putting their trust in the pilot to guide them safely along the route. I shouldn’t worry about it though as they love it – the faster the better! They are all just happy to be out in the fresh air, with the wind in their faces, getting exercise in doing an activity which they enjoy and for them on their own would be impossible.

They are no different from any other cyclist, they don’t like the hills either unless they are downaward and it’s the pilot’s job to encourage a little more effort from the back when the top is in sight or not in sight in some cases.

The day is more than just about the cycling though. The lunch stop gives the group a chance to sit down together and have a good chat and catch up with what’s been happening with everyone and make suggestions on future cycles. A couple of overseas club cycle trips in recent years have been spawned from such discussions, where we cycled down through the valleys in Switzerland one summer and around the Montpellier area in France another.

I am happy to be a member of Talking Tandems. Moving Towards Inclusion is its motto and by simply taking part in a pastime that I enjoy, I, at the same time can do a little to give others who would not ordinarily be able to, the opportunity to join in”.

“I am not different from you. I am different like you.” Dr. Laraine Kaminskv.


moving towards inclusion

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