‘Cycling with a friend’ Touching moment Sophie Wessex hosted a blind bike rider at Bagshot

Sophie Wessex supporting women 'without a voice' says Scobie

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The Countess of Wessex, 56, invited a blind cyclist from a sight loss charity to practice their joint ride around the grounds of the 120-room Surrey mansion she shares with Prince Edward. Monica Smith, the centenary appeal manager at Vision Foundation, recalled for the Mirror’s royal podcast Pod Save The Queen her “exciting” visit to Bagshot Park.

Smith arrived at Sophie Wessex’s home in preparation for a charity event the two were set to attend the following day.

Speaking to the Mirror Online’s features editor, Zoe Forsey, Ms Smith said: “I took my tandem to Bagshot Park the day before the event, which was very exciting.”

Vision Foundation’s centenary appeal manager added: “I was a bit apprehensive thinking ‘oh my goodness I’m going to a royal venue, how nerve-wracking’, but it was so relaxed.

“It was a beautiful summer morning.”

Soon after her arrival, Sophie Wessex accompanied Ms Smith on the tandem bike for a test ride.

“It was just like a friend had joined us,” Smith said.

After a somewhat nervy first lap, the Countess of Wessex even opted to provide audio descriptions of the grounds to her visually impaired visitor.

This was extremely useful for Monica Smith who told the Mirror she is “totally blind.”

When the pair met again to cycle at Bushy Park in Richmond-upon-Thames, Smith recalled: “We had an extremely smooth start – we just put our feet on the pedals and off we went.

“We rode round the park and Sophie was describing various things that were happening.”

But things soon changed.

“It was only one instant when she suddenly said ‘oh my goodness’,” Smith said.

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The Countess had been startled by the “enormous” deer that roam the parks of south west London.

Her cycling partner added: “She said there are some massive stags with big horns and I’m a bit scared about going past them.

“At that stage, I couldn’t see how enormous these things were.

“But we managed to cycle past them and she breathed a sigh of relief.”

Smith went on to tell the Mirror’s podcast: “It was really like cycling with a friend, I hadn’t realised it would be so relaxed.”

The Countess has been associated with Vision Foundation since 2003 when she took on the Queen Mother’s role as a patron to the group.

She has also been an avid cyclist for some time now.

Sophie Wessex even completed the 450-mile Diamond Challenge when she cycled all the way from Edinburgh to London in 2016.

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