Bernard Smith was the pilot and constant companion of Cathy Birchall on their epic circumnavigation of the world.
His reasoning, idea, and drive to tell this story is perhaps best summed up with the words from an interview prior to leaving the UK:
For me, the story will always be about a truly inspirational woman who got on with living, despite being knocked down so many times. In this shallow world of wannabe celebrities, fast food stories, and sound bites, it is true that inspirational people do exist. In fact, they are all around us in their ‘ordinariness’ as they walk our streets, ride our buses, and sit beside us in cafes. The thing that leaves me sad is their stories go unreported and for once, at least, I want to change that.
Despite the numerous set backs before leaving he was never sidetracked from achieving this aim and in many ways it was this drive which kept him going.
Ultimately, I wanted to tell the story of how change and hope is always possible as it never goes away. It was this single thought that kept me going through so many of the hard times.
Writing from his wide background of motorcycling across 35 years and list of occupations stretching from hospital porter to teacher, his love of two wheels remains unwavering. First beginning when he was eighteen years old, it continued throughout his life as his friends grew up to sell their bikes after gaining mortgages and children. With the year’s passing and those around him drifting into other lives there followed a long succession of British, Italian, and Japanese motorcycles until he switched to the bike he was to set out on (a 1990 BMW R100RT).
He first met Cathy herself within his role as a specialist teacher of the visual impaired but it was not long before the idea of circling the world together surfaced. Once it came, two years quickly passed as they attempted to gain sponsorship from both organisations and manufacturers. Ultimately, the realisation occurred they were to be on their own as many considered the task too difficult, dangerous, or expensive to achieve. Not to be deterred he promptly sold his house to fund the journey before setting out on his 18-year-old bike.
Despite the many obstacles and problems inherent in the task, he managed to guide Cathy around the world and to bring her back safely a year later. Drawing on their extensive journals made on their travels, what appears is a remarkable story in the telling. Uniquely psychological and profoundly personal, the tale of Bernard and Cathy will take you through 31 countries, 5 continents, and 26,385 miles.
It is the story of the blind woman who travelled the world.
It is the story of belief and dreams.