In 1997, Bob Griffin founder of Tomcat, met his wife Anne, and her son Thomas who had Angelman’s syndrome; a profound disability, typified by severe learning difficulties, sleep disturbance and poor coordination.
One day Anne made the casual remark that would change not only their lives, but the lives of disabled children worldwide. “If only we could tire Tom out”, she said, “he’d sleep all night and so could we!”
Tom required 24 hour supervision so exercise or outdoor activity was all but impossible on safety grounds. Cycling seemed the answer, but in 1998 special needs trikes were crude contraptions; little used outside school for weight and safety reasons. Something revolutionary was needed!
An invention with a purpose
Six months later Bob built the very first trike for riders with learning difficulties and visual impairment; furthermore, it did not look like a trike built for disabled children. It had lightness for ease of use and lightning fast transportability and a revolutionary rear steering and braking arm with park brake and speed regulation to put the carer in control.
Suddenly, Tom’s many problems evaporated and he cycled an astonishing three miles on his first attempt, laughing all the way. Bob recalls the day as a “wonderful, safe, rewarding, memorable, sunny day.”
Life changing trikes accessible to everyone
Tomcat trikes certainly turned the tricycle industry on its head by offering a bespoke solution to those families who thought cycling was entirely beyond their reach. So, what was initially a good idea turned into an innovative business.
Over the past twenty years Tomcat has become the leading light of the trike industry, with many innovations becoming industry standard by which all other trikes are judged. Tomcat has also been recognised for the difference it has made to people’s lives by the many awards it has won; including Britain’s highest business accolade – The Queen’s Award for innovation.
Quality isn’t expensive it’s priceless
The impact that Tomcat trikes has had on the disabled community would not have been possible without the funding support of charities like Cerebra, Steve Morgan Foundation, Action for Kids, the list goes on and on.
“Tomcat will always try and find a way for disabled children and adults to integrate into mainstream sport activities like cycling because it has so many health and social integration benefits. At its best, cycling can change the future from life spent in a wheelchair to walking, and that is a rite of passage to us all. For us as engineers, there can be no better reward than that.” Bob Griffin.