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Ian Major

ian majorSharing the birthday celebrations with ENABLE Scotland is prolific fundraiser Ian Major who also turns 60 this year.  Since 1998 Ian has completed a staggering 12 overseas bike challenges, raising thousands of pounds for ENABLE Scotland.  Ian has cycled across the Sinai desert, the jungles of Costa Rica and local villages in Kenya and Tanzania to name but a few.  And it all started with a poster in his local library.

“I was in the library and saw a poster looking for people to cycle on a Nile bike ride.  I’d just got a bike the year before so I’d started cycling a wee bit and I saw the poster and thought, ‘I fancy doing that.’  I thought it would be a good way to get me to Egypt and see the pyramids,” said Ian.

Ian called Jen Niven at ENABLE’s head office to find out what the trip entailed and how much money he had to raise.

“I nearly fell off my chair when she told me how much I had to raise.  I don’t know what I was thinking but I didn’t think it would be that much.  Jen told me I had to raise £1750.  I remember sitting on the bus and writing down the names of everybody I knew and trying to guess how much they would give me and it came to about £300.  But even then I knew I still wanted to do it.”

So Ian embarked on a series of fundraising events from car boot sales to sponsorship forms.  He also began training for the mammoth cycling challenge that lay ahead, dedicating long hours until he was happy that he could cycle 50miles in a day.  Soon the money began to mount up but when he reached the £1200 mark he started to struggle.  Luckily someone told him about a pub quiz night in the West End of Glasgow which raised money for charity each week.  They agreed to help Ian and in a matter of weeks they raised £500.  

“I also went into my son’s school and gave a couple of talks about the event.  Then the kids had a fundraising day in the school and that brought in another £300,” said Ian. 

Ian not only reached his target but surpassed it by nearly £1000.  The money he raised paid for the cost of the trip with the rest of it going to ENABLE Scotland.  However, two weeks before the event was due to take place there was a terrorist attack in Egypt and the bike ride had to be postponed.  Thankfully the event was rescheduled for March 1998 and Ian found himself cycling across the Sinai desert with 69 other people who were raising money for MENCAP and ENABLE Scotland. 

“I went away and had the best time of my life.  I met some really nice people from all different backgrounds.  When there are 70 people sharing four toilets you get to know people a wee bit better!”

Although at times the journey was enduring, Ian thoroughly enjoyed himself and the sense of camaraderie he felt amongst the group.  

“When I came back it was in my mind for a long time.  I found it difficult to get back into work.  But time went by and in 2000 ENABLE Scotland sent me a letter about a Costa Rica bike ride and I phoned my friend and asked him if he fancied doing it and he said yes.”

ENABLE Scotland then put Ian in touch with another man who was planning to take the Costa Rica challenge and they decided to raise money together.

“That’s when I hit upon my fundraising idea which I still use today.  It’s called a static bike ride.  We have a bike on a roller which we put outside a local supermarket and then just peddle on it all day.  People then put money in our buckets when they see what we are doing and why.  It works incredibly well.”

On average, Ian and his friends can raise around £1000 over a weekend when they do a static bike ride outside their local supermarket.  

“It funds all the trips we do now and we can do it every year because we’re not always approaching the same people,” said Ian.

However during one of his recent static bike rides, a passer-by seemed unusually interested in what Ian and his friends were doing.

“This guy came up to us and started asking us lots of questions about ENABLE Scotland.  Then he introduced himself to us.  It was Peter Scott, CEO of ENABLE Scotland!  He was very impressed with what we were doing and really liked the fact that everyone who donated money was acknowledged and thanked.”

As well as cycling events Ian has also taken part in a trek to Everest Base Camp in 2006.  More recently, in 2013, Ian and a friend organised a bike ride from Lands End to John O’Groats raising around £4000 for ENABLE Scotland. 

Ian retired from his job as a public servant in 2006 and now works part-time as a carer for people with dementia and people who have learning disabilities.  His experiences on that first bike trip to Egypt have had a lasting effect on his life.

“Going on that first bike ride has changed my life completely in various different ways. I’m not going to say I wasn’t tolerant of people before it but I was probably guilty of pre-judging people. I don’t do that now,” said Ian. 

Over the past 17 years Ian and his friends have raised in the region of £50,000 and this year Ian took part in a bike ride in Madagascar to raise even more money for ENABLE Scotland during its 60th anniversary celebrations. 

So happy birthday Ian, and here’s to 60 more bike rides.

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