The man who wanted to 'Get Northern Ireland Cycling'
Tom McClelland passed away on 13 February 2014. A CTC member since 1999, he was CTC’s Right to Ride campaigner covering the whole of Northern Ireland, but his impact on CTC and cycling was much wider than that.
He built relationships with politicians of every stripe in the cause of cycling and during 2013 was a major contributor to the establishment of an all party cycling group in the Northern Ireland Assembly at Stormont and established a committee, along the lines of CTC Scotland.
In the last three years he worked tirelessly to drive CTC’s growth and influence in Ireland, forging alliances with Sustrans, Friends of the Earth, the NI Cycling Initiative and colleagues in the Republic in Cyclist.ie. More than anyone else he gave CTC its current high profile in Irish cycle campaigning circles, both north and south of the border.
Tom McClelland was an inspirational figure within CTC and for the whole cycling community in Northern Ireland. He was a winner of CTC's Volunteer of the Year award, and had very recently been chosen to receive our Certificate of Merit. Nobody could have done more to champion the cause of cycling in Northern Ireland. Tom was, too, an exceptional man - generous, kind, thoughtful and warm. All of us will miss him very much.
CTC Chief Executive
Tom communicated constantly with opinion formers and policy makers on behalf of CTC and generated a large proportion of our media coverage and profile in Belfast. He secured important meetings for us with senior officials in the NI government and put an astonishing network of contacts at our disposal.
Perhaps his greatest achievement in 2013 was single-handedly setting up and delivering two highly successful conferences on ‘Politically Painless Cycling’, enabling CTC and others to speak directly to audiences including the Minister for Regional Development, the chair of the key parliamentary committee and the Mayor of Derry/Londonderry. Through Tom’s efforts, CTC is now for the first time working in Derry/Londonderry as well as Belfast.
As if all this wasn’t enough, Tom was also a joy to work with, campaigning with a smile on his face and an endlessly positive attitude. Many of our staff have fond memories of his rich Irish accent booming out of the receiver, audible to half the office. Everyone always had time to speak to Tom.
Tom may be gone, but he has left us one last legacy. Shortly before he died, he had persuaded the NI Regional Development Committee to hold a full-blown inquiry into the economic benefits of cycling and how to maximise these: effectively, a Northern Irish equivalent of 'Get Britain Cycling'.
Now it’s up to the rest of us to ensure that the outcome of this inquiry is a fitting epitaph to Tom's campaigning.