Why I’m cycling the length of the UK…from my garage!

Jackie Tagg is co-founder of North Berwick Beach Wheelchairs, a service very familiar to our guests, and she also volunteers at the North Berwick Day Centre. In her blog she talks about her background, why Leuchie is important to her and how this Land's End to John O'Groats virtual cycle challenge came about.

Confession – I'm only Scottish by adoption and choice. I'm originally from Chesterfield, Derbyshire, and then Leicester was my home for a few years during my student days. I have also lived in Edinburgh, Leeds and then chose North Berwick to live and stay!

My working background was 20 years in the Personnel Department at the Royal Mail, having previously trained to be a teacher. But when I moved to North Berwick I did some fabulous and diverse jobs - everything from waitressing, bar work, golf club attendant and assistant to the Harbourmaster! I love North Berwick and really enjoy the environs and the fabulous people and community.

My parents moved to North Berwick to be near me (Thank you Mum and Pop). I gave up all work in 2011 when my Mum had a massive stroke leaving her paralysed down one side, non-weight bearing with some brain damage. In an instant life changed for ever. She died in 2014. As Pop was ill at the same time as Mum, we got a house together and that decision turned out to be the best we had made especially given the present COVID situation. He is 95 now and still mobile [with help] and very sprightly in the brain department. I count myself as incredibly lucky to still have a parent at my age.

After Mum died, I felt at a loss and needed a project. My thoughts turned to beach wheelchairs. During my research I met the amazing Alison Brown who was also interested in helping anyone with disabilities access the beach. In 2015 Beach Wheelchairs North Berwick was born and has gone from strength to strength.

The North Berwick Day Centre is also an amazing charity here and I have been a volunteer for many years. It is currently closed but the staff deliver packed lunches and take some members out on the Day Centre bus. My main roles currently are baking and producing the monthly newsletter.

I was introduced to Leuchie when I first moved to North Berwick by a neighbour. He had MS and loved going there for day respite. Friends I made through Beach Wheelchairs who live in Fife also regularly holiday at Leuchie. Leuchie House is well known in North Berwick and the Christmas Fare, coffee mornings and various other events are legendary.

After my mum had her stroke it was amazing that she was able to go to Leuchie one day a week.

And onto my challenge! Several things happened at once: I decided I had to have a challenge because the virus was getting me down, Ken from Rotary reminded me that I did the virtual New York Marathon [on a treadmill in the Marine hotel] 10 years ago this month and Leuchie was appealing for funds having had to close for respite guests. All these things collided, and I remembered the bike that I stopped using [too many accidents and I don’t like cycling]. A light bulb moment! A cycling challenge to raise money for Leuchie - in the garage!

The virtual LeJog [Land’s End to John o’Groats ] was born. As the crow flies its 603 miles and I aim to do it by Christmas eve. My target was to raise £500. I felt that was quite a lot – after all it is coming up to Christmas and there is the matter of a pandemic. This target was soon smashed so I raised it to £1000, also smashed. So now we will just see where it goes. I absolutely do not like sitting on my bike in the garage, but it has been great to have people chat to me as I peddle going nowhere. Anything to take my mind of my soreness.

Am I likely to continue cycling once the challenge is over? Absolutely …………………………..NOT

Donate and see my updates <<here>>

As I write I have peddled 200 miles which is a third of the way!

Thanks for reading, Jackie.