Cycling gave OAP, 78, new lease of life

Margaret Duncan got back in the saddle after decades. Picture: Joey Kelly
Margaret Duncan got back in the saddle after decades. Picture: Joey Kelly
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A pensioner has told how she has found a new lease of life after taking up cycling at the age of 78.

Margaret Duncan a retired nurse who lives near Goldenacre, had enjoyed her bike in her younger days, but had given it up decades ago.

The mother-of-four and grandmother of one, had been in danger of slipping into depression earlier this year before her daughter suggested she get back in the saddle.

She said: “I was feeling very fed-up and things were really starting to get me down. My daughter said I should try cycling to see if some exercise and fresh air would lift my ­spirits. I thought I’d give it a go down on the canal path. They say you never forget, right? Wrong!

“I was so worried that I was going to topple into the water on one side I ended up falling into a bush on the other! At least I stayed dry.”

Mrs Duncan then heard about the Ageing Well courses run by Edinburgh Leisure, which offers cycling skills classes for the over-50s, among a host of other activities including gardening, swimming, curling, walking and singing.

She said: “I knew I needed to brush up my skills a little, so I booked in for a 12-week cycle skills course at the beginning of July. I felt a bit nervous about going along, but everyone was so helpful and encouraging, it became the highlight of my week.”

The Ageing Well programme is currently run in the North East and South Central of the city, but it is hoped that more volunteers will come forward to help the project expand.

All activities are supported by “the secret to Ageing Well’s success” – volunteers over 50, who undertake activity-related training.

Hannah Macrae, manager of Ageing Well, said: “It is incredibly rewarding to bring people together and watch them grow in confidence and health as they learn a new skill, get active and make friends.

“The secret to Ageing Well’s success is all activities are led or supported by enthusiastic older volunteers, who reap benefits such as being part of a team and seeing a positive change in the people they help.

“Volunteers also benefit from getting more active themselves and I would definitely ­encourage anybody considering volunteering to get in touch.”

And the Ageing Well Cycling programme recently received a boost from financial ­services firm KPMG, who donated bikes to be used by participants.

Phil Trodden, a member of the Ageing Well team, said: “We are massively grateful to KMPG for choosing Ageing Well for their bike donation.

“These new bikes will have a positive impact by upgrading our current fleet to a higher modern standard.”