Everyone knows the chorus to the song imploring Daisy to accept a marriage proposal - and a trip home from church upon the seat of a bicycle built for two.
But Sheffield Hallam graduate Belinda Noda has lived it. In fact the second chorus, “We will go ‘tandem’ as man and wife, peddling away down the road of life” could have been written for her and husband Paul Stanton..
Belinda was paralysed from the waist down at the age of 27 when the driver of the van she was travelling across the USA in fell asleep at the wheel.
But she never lost her wanderlust. “It’s your approach to life that defines you, not your physical body. And you can always get by with a little help from your friends,” says Belinda, who after her accident travelled to Japan, took part in sailing trips, had three children and gained her second degree - in conservation management at Sheffield Hallam in 2010.
Her latest adventure is becoming an inventor and business entrepreneur at the age of 55. She is a finalist in Hallam’s Enterprise Challenge with her bicycle built for two - one able-bodied, one disabled.
She and her husband have travelled hundreds of miles on their bike and wheelchair combo since developing it in time for their wedding four years ago.
Their love of traversing the great outdoors had sent them in search of such a tandem. “We tried some that were as cumbersome as wheelbarrows and placed me in front of the bike,” says Belinda. “I felt scared and vulnerable out front, and conversation was impossible. Then we found a secondhand bike called The Discoverer, a side-by-side invented in Birmingham 20 years ago. We customised it with a unique linking system that enabled my wheelchair to be attached and detached when necessary.
“It meant the bike was lighter and easier to store, and on outings we could stop, detach my chair and head for the pub,” she explains.
On their converted Discoverer they have followed the towpaths of the Caledonian Canal and the Leeds to Liverpool Canal, cycled from Arbroath to Dundee, traversed long stretches of the Trans Pennine Trail and enjoyed a two-week cycling holiday in The Netherlands with Belinda’s three daughters.
“We often came across people saying they wished they had a bike like ours and when we heard about the Hallam Enterprise Awards I realised I had to go for it so that thousands of people who feel trapped by mobility limitations can share the travel experiences my partner and I enjoy,” says Belinda, who works part time at Leeds Medical School and is an artist. She set up her business, Cycle In Company, and plans to develop the Daisy Bell, a cycle and wheelchair tandem using cutting-edge cycle technology.
As a result of entering the contest, Cycle In Company is working with Enterprise Awards backer Gripple and development talks with technology specialists at Rotherham’s Advanced Manufacturing Park are planned.
“We pedalled around Gripple’s offices and they loved it,” says Belinda: “I am very grateful to the Sheffield Hallam Office of Research and Innovation, who have given me the opportunity to see what is possible - even at my age.”