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Smile machine hits the streets

Greytown Lions member John Rhodes takes South Wairarapa Mayor Viv Napier and former Greytown Mayor Richard Harding for a spin in the new trishaw. PHOTO/EMILY IRELAND

Trishaw a gift to town’s elderly and disabled

Emily Ireland

Greytown’s elderly and disabled will be able to feel the breeze against their skin as they take a ride on the community’s new trishaw.

Months of hard work and fundraising paid off last week for the Greytown Lions Club as the new mode of transport was officially launched in town.

It was inspired by an initiative started in Denmark in 2012, ‘Cycling Without Age’, and the purchase of the purpose-built trishaw gives Greytown the credentials of being the first community-based Cycling Without Age chapter in New Zealand.

Greytown Lions Club member John Rhodes, the driver of the project, said there were two pilots trained to take passengers in the trishaw – himself and John McKenzie.

Several more are lined up for training.

At last week’s launch, Rhodes piloted the “maiden voyage” taking passengers South Wairarapa Mayor Viv Napier and former Greytown Mayor Richard Harding around Greytown’s shopping precinct.

“We feel vindicated because it was a difficult idea to sell at first, but it gained momentum,” Rhodes said.

The trishaw cost $16,000 – a considerable amount of money raised by the Greytown Lions Club over a few months.

The idea was floated by the Lions in the middle of this year after they were lent a trishaw free of charge by Dan Mikkelsen of Bicycle Junction in Wellington.

Chief Pilot John McKenzie said the idea behind fundraising for the trishaw was to reintroduce the elderly back into the community “so they felt the wind in their hair and could experience the environment they remember from their youth”.

“I call it the smile machine,” he said.

“I took a couple of ladies out for a ride and I think they smiled the entire time they were out there.

“We also had truckies coming down the main road, tooting us as they went on.”

He said the project made him “feel good as the pilot”.

One trip he described involved an elderly woman passenger who “wanted to see the roses” in town.

“So we stopped and smelled the roses – then I picked her a rose and gave it to her and we rode on down the street.

“She just smiled from the time we left to the time we got back again.”

The trishaw services elderly and disabled residents based in Arbor House and Noel Hamilton House, but people based in their own homes who would benefit from the service can also get in touch.

“I’ve had elderly people who see parts of the town they’ve never seen before – they’ve been in a rest home for 10 years and haven’t really seen the town.

“We literally give them wind in their hair, we literally let them smell the roses – it’s wonderful.”

South Wairarapa Mayor Viv Napier said it was “wonderful” not only to address a need in the community – but to go above and beyond that need.

“It’s a little bit extra to make people’s lives more pleasant and more enjoyable, especially if you are someone who can’t get out and about as you used to.

“I look forward to seeing this trishaw going around Greytown giving people smiles on their faces.”

The project was successful with the support of Greytown Lions Club, Freemasons of Wairarapa (driven by Greytown St Mark’s Lodge), Greytown RSA, Greytown Lands Trust, South Wairarapa Rotary Club, Greytown Lionesses,

Greytown Community Board, South Wairarapa Workingmen’s Club, South Wairarapa Inner Wheel, Bruce Eglinton, Adam Blackwell, Nigel Thorp, and many other generous donors.

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