Dilys Gartside

Volunteer of the Year for South East England, Dilys Gartside

Dilys Gartside

Volunteer of the Year for South East England, Dilys Gartside.

Having been discouraged from cycling as a child, at aged 10 Dilys learnt to cycle on a friend’s bike. Her head was turned from car to cycle at Law College and at 26 bought her first bike, commuting to work for a decade and disregarding jokes and jibes about inappropriate behaviour for a female solicitor in Thatcher’s 1980s.

She continued her 'inappropriate behaviour' when raising a family: ‘sharing lifts’ meant going by bike. Dilys taught many children to ride under the Council’s cycling proficiency scheme but, her offer to do more being declined, she retrained to National Standard and set up CycleWise in 2005, going full-time with it in 2008. She teaches in schools and also adults with and without learning difficulties.

She regularly writes on cycling in her local paper: as media co-ordinator for Southampton Cycling Campaign, she goes on local radio and challenged BBC ladies to ride ‘Five Miles to Fabulous’ making it the largest such event in the country in 2008. In November, she persuaded BBC1 to choose her road from a nationwide search to find a street willing to go car free and make a documentary exploring alternative modes of transport; as part of the programme, she taught her neighbours to cycle and her passion for cycling is infectious - one neighbour told the producer he could make the documentary about Dilys alone!

She advises highway engineers on local road schemes and participated in a study tour of Holland’s cycling infrastructure in May, giving talks and presentations at events such as the Go Green Fair.