WHEN Tamworth man Phillip Tilley started to lose his sight 14 years ago, he was a keen motorbike rider who thought his favourite pastime would be lost as well.
Thanks to a group of friends though Mr Tilley has continued to pursue his passion over the years, albeit as a pillion passenger.
One of those mates is neighbour Paul Turner, who recently won a Tamworth Access Award after being nominated by a grateful Mr Tilley.
The Access Awards are a way of recognising individuals and businesses who make that extra effort to include people with a disability.
Mr Turner, who has ridden bikes for the past 25 years, said he was a bit taken aback when he learned of the award, saying he enjoyed being able to take Mr Tilley out on his Triumph and didn’t expect anything in return.
Mr Tilley was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa in 1999, a degenerative disease of the eyes that meant, among many other things, he had to hand in his licence.
He said he’d ridden motorcycles as a kid and the thought of never riding again had been a blow.
Mr Turner moved next door in 2001 and it wasn’t long before the pair learned they had a mutual passion for bikes and Mr Tilley was soon back on two wheels.
Other neighbours and friends also help him indulge his passion.
Last month the pair hit the road for the annual North West Pink Ribbon Motorbike Ride that attracted 220 riders who made their way through Bendemeer, Uralla and Walcha before heading back to Tamworth.
It was the first time they’d embarked on it but it sounds like it won’t be the last.
“It’s great to be able to still enjoy riding and still be out there on the road and socialising with other people who love bikes,” Mr Tilley said.
Bikes are just the start of his pastimes, too, with horse riding through Riding for the Disabled, sailing and golf also keeping him busy.
He’s a big believer in not letting anything get in the way of the things you love and a simple message for other people with disabilities.
“Just get out there and have a go.”