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Special needs cycling in Ireland – Charlie McCarthy’s story

A bespoke special needs trike that keeps Charlie happy, safe and healthy

Charlie McCarthy lives with his family in Lisburn, Northern Ireland. He was born with Cerebral Palsy and has also been diagnosed with learning difficulties and Autism.

However, with the aid of riding a bespoke built Tomcat Fizz trike, Charlie’s parents are now able to deal with some of his more emotionally challenging behaviour.

A boy and his bike

From the age of three onwards Charlie was keen to join in on boisterous activities, like pedalling ride ons, with the rest of his cousins. It became apparent very quickly to Chris McCarthy, Charlie’s father, that he was unable to do this due to his lack of motor skills.

“I was adamant that I didn’t want Charlie missing out on being able to ride a bike, like any other boy, so I contacted his physiotherapist to see what solution we could come up with. She confirmed that riding a bike would also help to strengthen his legs and increase his muscle tone. This is when we were introduced to Tomcat Trikes and John Preston Healthcare Group in Lisburn.”




John Preston has been the distributor for Tomcat trikes for over three years. We are a sixth generation family run business that celebrated 170 years in business in 2016.

Three years ago Gary Allen, Product Specialist and Sales Manager at John Preston, at the request from the family, carried out the assessment at Charlie’s home.

Using his expert knowledge of Tomcat trikes Gary was able to assess what type of support Charlie needed in order to ride the trike.

Chris said,
“It was amazing to see Charlie able to use the pedals on the first attempt, definitely a day I will remember forever. Gary’s skill, expertise and knowledge were flawless; he made us all feel at ease at the assessment. I had already heard of John Preston through a previous role I’d worked in – their reputation certainly precedes them!”

Overcoming Challenges
“Charlie has no danger awareness,” continues Chris, “so the carer control handle is just perfect for him and us! We’re in control, but from behind so it creates an illusion for Charlie that he’s in the ‘driver’s seat,’ riding the bike independently. We did try a competitor trike and the ‘bar’ at the back was no match in the functionality that the Tomcat carer control offers.”

Three years on from when the trike was first purchased, Chris has seen the benefits of Charlie riding his trike. One of the most notable is using the Tomat trike as a therapy tool to manage Charlie’s autism and occasional emotionally challenging behaviour.

“When Charlie is having difficulty expressing himself this can be quite an emotional time for him and this was quite hard to manage before we bought the trike. Now, we use it as a means of calming him down but in a safe and controlled way. He can use up the energy that he has not only benefitting from the exercise, but more importantly the positive effect it has on his mental well being.”

The transportability of the trike has also helped the family to use the trike at different locations, so Charlie is able to ride his trike beyond his back garden.

“The two piece frame is so easy to dismantle. It’s so simple, light and quick with no need for spanners – I don’t want to mess around with tools when I’m out and about with the family,” says Chris.

Looking ahead
“Gary recently came out to adjust Charlie’s trike and again, I cannot fault the service, so there’s no doubt we will go back to John Preston for our next purchase. We’ve seen a definite difference in Charlie since he’s been riding his trike so we want to continue his therapy both physical and mental and we believe only a Tomcat trike is fit for purpose.”

For further information about Tomcat trikes in Ireland call us on:
0287 92 67 70 77
Or South of Ireland call
0044 28 92 67 70 77

Check out the Tomcat Fizz

Tomcat Fizz Trike


The Tomcat Fizz Trike is designed to meet the needs of both children and adults with mild to severe disabilities, whether physical, visual or learning difficulties.

Every Trike is customized to meet each individual needs.

With an attractive stylish and sporty design the Tomcat Fizz was developed for outdoor fun and effortless use.

Completely safe and stable, yet very lightweight and easy to assemble.

    • Improves stability with extra-long wheel base

    • Can convert to a trailer trike easily

    • Featuring an optional “latch on” bar

    • Single and multi-speed

    • Quick-Release system

    • Three control types

Tomcat offers an amazing range of special needs trikes

Speak to an expert today

Gary Allen

Product Specialist
028 92 67 70 77