Charlie Mccarthy lives with his family in Lisburn, a city in Northern Ireland. He was born with a motor disability termed Cerebral Palsy and has also been diagnosed with learning difficulties and Autism. However, with the aid of riding a bespoke built Tomcat Fizz trike, Charlie’s parents are now able to deal with some of his more emotionally challenging behaviour.

A boy and his bike

From the age of three onwards, Charlie was keen to join in on boisterous activities, like pedalling ride ons, with the rest of his cousins. It became apparent very quickly to Chris Mccarthy, Charlie’s father, that he was unable to do this due to his lack of motor skills.

He comments,

“I was adamant that I didn’t want Charlie missing out on being able to ride a bike, like any other boy, so I contacted his physiotherapist to see what solution we could come up with. She confirmed that riding a bike would also help to strengthen his legs and increase his muscle tone. This is when we were introduced to Tomcat Trikes and John Preston Healthcare Group in Lisburn.”

John Preston has been Tomcat trike distributors for over three years.  It’s a sixth-generation family-run organisation that celebrated 170 years in business in 2016.

A leading light in its sector, the company supplies innovative products and services to Healthcare Professionals and retail customers. John Preston has an impressive showroom in Lisburn, Northern Ireland; however, it also services the entire island of Ireland, UK and more recently Europe.

Three years ago Gary Allen, Product Specialist and Sales Manager at John Preston, at the request from the family, carried out the assessment at Charlie’s home. Using his expert knowledge of Tomcat trikes Gary was able to assess what type of support Charlie needed in order to ride the trike. Chris said,

“It was amazing to see Charlie able to use the pedals on the first attempt, definitely a day I will remember forever. Gary’s skill, expertise and knowledge were flawless; he made us all feel at ease at the assessment. I had already heard of John Preston through a previous role I’d worked in – their reputation certainly precedes them!”

Overcoming Challenges

“Charlie has no danger awareness,” continues Chris, “so the carer control handle is just perfect for him and us! We’re in control, but from behind so it creates an illusion for Charlie that he’s in the ‘driver’s seat,’ riding the bike independently. We did try a competitor trike and the ‘bar’ at the back was no match in the functionality that the Tomcat carer control offers.”

Three years on from when the trike was first purchased, Chris has seen the benefits of Charlie riding his trike. One of the most notable is using the Tomcat trike as a therapy tool to manage Charlie’s autism and occasional emotionally challenging behaviour.

“When Charlie is having difficulty expressing himself this can be quite an emotional time for him and this was quite hard to manage before we bought the trike. Now, we use it as a means of calming him down but in a safe and controlled way. He can use up the energy that he has not only benefitting from the exercise but more importantly the positive effect it has on his mental well being.”

The transportability of the trike has also helped the family to use the trike at different locations, so Charlie is able to ride his trike beyond his back garden.

“The two-piece frame is so easy to dismantle. It’s so simple, light and quick with no need for spanners – I don’t want to mess around with tools when I’m out and about with the family,” says Chris.

Looking ahead

“Gary recently came out to adjust Charlie’s trike and again, I cannot fault the service, so there’s no doubt we will go back to John Preston for our next purchase. We’ve seen a definite difference in Charlie since he’s been riding his trike so we want to continue his therapy both physical and mental and we believe only a Tomcat trike is fit for purpose.”