Family gaining a '˜new-found freedom' with specialist bike

A BOY AND his family discover newfound freedom with specialist bike.

The Banks family have spent months fundraising to buy their son, Rufus, who was born with autism, epilespy and severe learning disabilities, a specialist bike which will allow him to enjoy family days out.

In July, Robb Banks, Rufus’ father, cycled 100 miles across the South Downs Way to raise money for the bike, which cost £7,000.

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Adur East Lions put the last £500 towards the bike and now it has finally arrived.

Jo, mother said; “A newfound freedom to explore the outdoors, it means we can go out together as a family, experience and talk about the surroundings, get fresh air and exercise...all together.

Rufus is extremely happy about with bike, he laughs so much when he is on it. It is a very sensory experience, wind, rain, air, cars. Rufus finds all this very exciting. He is very engaged with the experience, which brings him into our world in a positive enlightening enriching way.

We are thrilled, we never thought we’d raise the money. The response has been incredible, we have had donations from family and friends, local businesses, the Rotary Club and of course the Lions. We are so very grateful to all these people, and it is heartening that such exist and work so hard to benefit those who need a bit of extra help. The bike has exceeded all our hopes already and we are thrilled.”

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The bike is a Hase Pino specialist front tandem. It will allow him to get outside and enable the family to enjoy outdoor activities all together as Rufus’ autism prevents him from walking very far, although he is physically able he can’t understand the point of walking.

Herons Dale school

Jo added: “We are overwhelmed by the donation the Lions have made. We will be riding out and about in Shoreham a lot, and thanks to them and our other donators we are able to be more part of the community, which the Lions of course support so strongly. It is very touching and heart warming how much everyone has supported us.”

Susan Saunder, Adur Esat Lions, said: “the family were doing all they could already to raise the money, it is a local cause and we like to donate most of the money raised locally to local causes and the bike will grow with Rufus and therefore be there for him up to adulthood.”

Warwick Banks, Rufus’ uncle, said: “Rufus has many sensory needs, and being on a bike, bumping around, going fast, wind in his bouncy hair, just makes him laugh and laugh and laugh and for that moment in time he is free from all the constraints that his autism and severe learning disabilities put on him. He is a regular eight-year-old enjoying mucking about on a bike and that is about all the communication we need.”

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Help with fundraising ideas came from Community Voluntary Section, and Autism Sussex. Tony Barnard Foundation is a charity based in Hove, for children and adults with learning difficulties. Donations were raised through Rufus’ VirginGiving page and other smaller events. such as tea parties and mums’ lunches.

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