28-year-old with cerebral palsy aims to cycle 680 miles to change perceptions

complicatons during Jack Thompson's birth meant that he was starved of oxygen and left with the life-limiting condition cerebral palsy.

By The Newsroom
Thursday, 23rd August 2018, 9:54 am
Updated Thursday, 23rd August 2018, 9:59 am
Jack Thompson
  Unable to ride a bike I go international by trike.

From Jack's Instagram page - with permission
Jack Thompson Unable to ride a bike I go international by trike. From Jack's Instagram page - with permission

But the 28-year-old is determined to change perceptions of his condition by cycling the 680 miles from his home in Greater London to the island town of Stornoway on a custom-designed tricycle. Cerebral Palsy affects movement and coordination and for Jack it means that he has poor balance and difficulty walking.

He said: “As someone who finds it hard to walk it was a revelation when I got into cycling. I can cycle much faster than I can walk.”

Currently enjoying a four-day stop in the Capital where he is recharging before the next leg of his tour, Jack is enjoying the hustle and bustle of the city during the Fringe. He said: “I came to Scotland as I know the people have a reputation of being nice. I have met lots of nice people here.”

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Jack started cycling when he was 21 and at university studying Fine Art. He needed to transport himself and his bags and books across London. He loves the freedom his three wheels afford him but due to his condition he has to take regular breaks.

He set off on July 29 in a bid to avoid any cold weather and has stopped off in Hull, Newcastle and now the Capital. Edinburgh has been his favourite place so far with its vibrant energy and ancient architecture. He chose Stornoway as his final destination because he wanted to see as much of Scotland as he could.

He said: “I chose it because on the BBC weather map it is the most northerly place in the country. Although I’m a bit scared of the wind in the Outer Hebrides.”

Jack is adventuring alone, just as he did last year in Spain, because he wants to go at his own pace. His family are used to him “doing stupid things” but when they heard his next challenge was Scotland they were relieved he would be able to speak and – mostly – understand the language.

He hopes his epic journey will challenge preconceptions of people living with cerebral palsy. He said: “I think people expect that people with cerebral palsy can’t do much.

“People assume I haven’t done anything which is why I started the cycling. I’d like to give others hope too but I’m aware everyone’s disability is different. If someone needs to mostly rest, that’s okay. It would be good to change society’s perception of disability.”

He doesn’t think he will be taking in any shows during his time here as he finds getting around quite difficult. He said: “I hadn’t factored in the busyness of the Fringe but I’m finding Edinburgh a lovely city. Lots of cobbles, which are hard, but that’s what makes it so pretty.”

He plans to be back home playing with his young nieces by autumn but already has his bike lights set on Italy for next year’s expedition.

He said: “I’m pretty gung ho otherwise I wouldn’t be doing it.”