Hydrobiking as an activity has taken a hold of Fermanagh in recent years. But the first one may have appeared on the lough a number of years ago. Toni Johnson recalls memories of her husband, the late Gordon Johnson, and his hydrobike invention that travelled around the island – cycled by John Maxwell – to raise funds for what would become Enniskillen Integrated Primary School.

My lovely, funny, creative Gordon died in 2012, and this [hydrobike] was one of his many ‘escapades’ with his friend and partner in crime, John Maxwell.

John had decided to champion the establishment of an integrated primary school in Enniskillen.

The Integrated sector was created and driven by the demands and efforts of parents. There was no funding, so fundraising and financial support from the Northern Ireland Council for Integrated Education (NICIE) was so important.

My husband Gordon – John’s friend, neighbour and fishing companion – decided to invent a hydrobike that John could pedal around the island of Enniskillen and by sponsorship raise money for the school – and he did.

We had old delivery bikes complete with a basket containing a model of a young lady in white, which was occasionally used in festival parades in Enniskillen through the Seventies.

He made the floats from fibreglass, attached to the bike, et voila – he had a pedal bike on skis: a hydrobike.

The next question for the pair was, would it stay upright? Would it be too heavy for the floats; or too heavy to pedal; would it stay upright?

We thought, "Better to try it out before asking for sponsors"; manpower – in the form of John – was not a problem.

He was fit and used to the water and an excellent swimmer, so we took to the lake in a trailer covered with a tarpaulin to a small slipway beside the Manor House, and complete with the demurely-attired 'lady'.

Gordan launched it. But while mounting it, a gust of wind caught the lady, and over she went out of the basket. John ran in to save her and restored her to the basket; she was fine – a little damp, but fine.

John mounted the bike and pedalled off, and a police car arrived. Two constables sauntered down to the lakeside and pointed to the ‘lady’ as John pulled into the slipway.

They said: “Is she all right?”

Gordon: "Yes, she is fine."

The constables: “Are you all right?”

Gordon said: "Yes."

The constables: “What are you doing?”

It was obvious neither of them knew Gordon, or they would have understood and not been surprised at all, and Gordon began to explain. If I had the equipment, I would have made tea at this point.

Then came roars of laughter out of the two ‘boys’, who explained that they had received a message from the Manor House that a couple on a boat had seen a ‘lady’ fall into the water from “some kind of craft”, and “there were two men with her”.

Obviously it was 'suspicious' – possibly a drowning, or worse!

Having asserted that foul play was not suspected, it was time for one of the 'boys' to have a go on the bike.

We loaded up and discarded the tarpaulin, as the hydrobike was damp but presentable, and a success – we had a police escort back to Drumclay, and at last, a cup of tea.

John completed the bike ride around the island with a huge audience of townspeople and much cheering and clapping. The school subsequently opened in 1989.