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Nonagenarian action men with combined age of 188 get back on their bikes

Enjoying cycling along Caernarfon harbour are staff and residents from Bryn Seiont Newydd. Elliw Owen Jones, enrichment co-ordinator, Richard Jones, Nia Davies-Williams, musician in residence, James Glynn and Audrey Phillips, care practitioner. Photo: Stacey Oliver

Two men with a combined age of 188 have got back on their bikes in Gwynedd.

Retired vicar Richard Jones, 96, and his friend, ex-shopkeeper James Glynn, 92, donned cycling helmets to ride specially adapted bicycles up and down the promenade in Caernarfon.

The dynamic duo are both residents of Pendine Park’s Bryn Seiont Newydd care home on the outskirts of the town whose staff organised the cycling session.

They are by some distance the oldest people to hire bikes from Beics Antur, part of the leading social enterprise Antur Waunfawr, at their shop in Porth yr Aur, Caernarfon

The nonagenarian action men  waved and smiled at pedestrians and other cyclists on the popular promenade as seagulls cackled and swooped low overhead.

Taking a breather, Richard admired the view across the Menai Strait towards Anglesey.

“It’s wonderful to be out and on such a sunny day. This is such a beautiful view. I was a vicar at Felinheli, which is near Caernarfon, and the church, St Mary’s, is right by the water’s edge at Llanfairisgaer, so this view is one I’m very familiar with,” he said.

Richard was the Rural Dean in Arfon and before he moved to Felinheli he was rector at Aberffraw where he took charge of services at a number of churches in the locality including St Cwyfan’s Church which is built on a rocky outcrop completely surrounded by the sea at high tide.

James Glynn hails from Manchester but ran the village shop in Tregarth near Bangor for many years.

The former Army sergeant enjoyed cycling and owned a bicycle until about five years ago.

“I had a bike and I enjoyed riding it but it’s been a few years since I’ve been on one. The seats on this one are a bit hard though but I’ve enjoyed riding it along here and having a chat with a few people along the way.”

A keen yachtsman in his younger days, James enjoyed watching the small boats leaving Slate Quay and sailing along the Menai Strait.

“I kept my boat, Megan, in Bangor and would sail it down the Strait to Caernarfon. I spent a lot of time here,” he added.

Bryn Seiont Newydd’s resident musician Nia Davies Williams said indoor cycling sessions had proved to be extremely popular with residents over the winter.

“We took advantage of sessions organised by Beics Antur at the Byw’n Iach centre in Caernarfon. Bikes were brought to the centre and we were able to cycle indoors on the tennis courts.

“It was something we had been keen to introduce for some time but the cost of specially adapted bicycles was prohibitive.

“We are focused on music and that extremely beneficial to the residents who are living with dementia but activities such as cycling or dancing can help them stay independent and provide a great sense of enjoyment. They can also keep you in touch with other people and improve the quality of life.

“Now that the weather is warming up we are just as keen to come out and enjoy the sunshine and the old adage that you can never forget how to ride a bike is certainly true for Richard and James.”

Beics Antur have a range of specially adapted cycles, including two-seat quad cycles and single-seat tricycles as well as a hand-driven tricycle. Some have the benefit of an electric motor which makes pedalling much less of a chore.

Spokesperson Tom Workman said they were pleased to see Richard and James enjoying themselves during their session on the bikes.

“Our bicycles are popular among locals and visitors alike and with people like Richard and James it shows that age is no barrier to riding a bicycle. The benefits of cycling are many and we are always delighted to welcome Bryn Seiont Newydd residents and offer them the opportunity to renew their cycling skill ,” he said.

Beics Antur is part of the Antur Waunfawr family of businesses and has recently been developed into a Health & Well-being centre, with a bike hire a repair shop, a Well-being Loft available to hire and a sensory room, in a project worth £1 million.

Since Antur Waunfawr was first established in 1984 the charity has developed rapidly and are perhaps best known for its recycling projects. Their Caergylchu and Warws Werdd projects offer a range of work and training opportunities and now employs more than 100 staff and supports over 65 adults with learning difficulties.