Blind, yet with a vision: Cathy Birchall’s world tour on a motorbike

July 23, 2009 by  
Filed under VISION

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UPDATE: November 2012

I have been informed by Bernand Smith regarding error of this post …. as well to point out the comment from 2009 below

Date: November 5, 2012
Subject: errors of information // Message
Hi there – a correction if I may. On the following address from your site, At no time did sponsors contribute to the running costs of the trip in any shape or form. The trip was funded by myself in its entirety – I actually sold my house to fund it. Best wishes. Bernard Smith

– Thanks for the update Bernard and Cathy / HART

Motorcycling seems like a fun sport. I never tried it myself  
except by sitting behind my husband and holding on for my dear life. But even I, as the “passenger” could feel the freedom of movement that comes with these vehicles.

I can imagine how good it felt for Cathy Birchall of Warrington, Cheshire, UK to go around the world on her motorbike. So what’s the big deal, you’d ask? It’s been done before.

Well, what if I tell that Cathy is blind, and is the first blind person to circumnavigate the world on a motorbike?

That certainly breaks down your misconceptions of motorbiking and of visually impaired people, doesn’t it? And that’s exactly what Cathy aimed to do. Because hers was a journey with a real vision – to help raise awareness of sight loss and eye conditions around the globe.

And her travels took to places where she met people who inspired her and whom she inspired. Among the organizations she visited are

  • Swiss Guide Dogs
  • The Score Foundation
  • Eyeway in India
  • Vision Australia
  • Fred Hollow’s Foundation
  • The Centre for the Blind Women in Delhi

Cathy says

The past year has been an amazing experience; I have had the pleasure of moving freely in the world as a blind person – something that seemed unimaginable when I first lost my sight and I actually became a real inspiration to those I met throughout my journey“.

Cathy was born with a degenerative eye condition which gradually robbed her of her sight, so that she was completely blind when she reached her mid twenties.

Cathy travels with Bernard Smith who does the steering and a 20-year BMW motorbike Bertha. They started the incredible journey in Ireland on August 8, 2009 and arrived back in the UK earlier this month. , covering a distance of about 25,000 miles in 30 countries. During the journey, Bertha used up three sets of tires and had replacements for a starter motor, an exhaust and an alternator.

In their stop in Peru, Cathy even managed to climb the Wynapicchu at Machu Picchu, making her the first blind woman ever to scale the famous Inca mountain.

During her travels, Cathy managed to gain sponsors that contributed to the expenses of her trip as well as raise funds which will be split equally between Action for Blind People, Guide Dogs for the Blind Association, and the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB).

Where to next, Cathy?


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One Response to “Blind, yet with a vision: Cathy Birchall’s world tour on a motorbike”
  1. Hi there.

    We would just like to correct some points on your article which we have stumbled on by accident.

    The day to day expenses and all associated costs (living, petrol, spares and air shipments) while on the road were born by Bernard and myself.

    We had TWO pieces of equipment kindly donated by sponsors ( for a communication system on the motorcycle and Dolphin Computers for specialist speech software along with a laptop).

    With thanks for the featuring of the journey in aid of visual impairment.

    Best Wishes

    Cathy Birchall and Bernard Smith.

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