Holidays are always parts of our lives that we will remember, either for all the right reasons, in how much it was enjoyed by everyone, or the wrong reasons and the disaster that it turned out to be.
I always remember one holiday from very early years when the Cooperative ran convalescent breaks and holidays in a very large house in North Berwick.
My mother was chosen for this break because she was still recovering from the failed operation a few months earlier. I think people who had suffered industrial disease or accident were often nominated by unions, community groups, or charities, but clearly the method of transport to the centre was up to those nominated.
The very large mansion was situated right at the top of a hill, and must have been quite close to what I knew as ‘Whale Hill’ as it had the crossed bones of a whale on top. There was no direct transport, except by very difficult to access buses to Edinburgh, and another lengthy bus run to North Berwick followed by a difficult walk to the Centre. So we had to rely on a very modern family friend who actually owned a motor car and offered to take us there.
The British Polio Fellowship also owned a family sized caravan at Arbroath on the Red Lion Site, specially adapted for wheelchairs and disabled users. Again this entailed travelling to Glasgow by train, and then to Arbroath by bus or train.
These holidays stay fresh in my mind because my mother got a holiday that had all the necessities to make her holiday enjoyable and memorable. These holidays were different to the “respite in reverse” holidays when I was ‘farmed out’ to relatives in the North–West Highlands.
For a young boy, the freedom of the Highlands with all the adventure that brought was simply fantastic. My mother got respite from an increasingly boisterous youngster and she also got a holiday from me, albeit in that very familiar place called ‘Hameldaeme’.
In recent years accessible holidays for the disabled have taken off – literally – with adventure holiday companies offering everything from paragliding and abseiling to sailing for disabled people and their families.
In Scotland, the Badaguish Centre on Speyside offers groups and families the opportunity to have an adventure together.
Their websites states they are:
• “A Charitable Trust providing a special service to people with disabilities, including a fully staffed programme and purpose built Activity Holiday Unit which people with disabilities can visit unaccompanied (24-hr respite care).
• Registered with the Care Inspectorate to provide residential care for people with disabilities.
• Operating within nationally accepted Care and Safety Guidelines.
Featured recently on the BBC Countryfile Programme is the Calvert Trust which has centre in Exmoor, Kielder ( Northumberland) and the Lake District . http://www.calvert-trust.org.uk/home/home
“The Calvert Trust enables people with disabilities, together with their families and friends, to achieve their potential through the challenge of outdoor adventure in the countryside.
We aim to do this by providing:
• A wide range of adventurous outdoor activities, meaningful challenge and adventure within a framework of safety
• Skilled, qualified and caring staff able to fulfil the needs of visitors
• Accommodation appropriate to the needs of the visitors
• Facilities for families and friends to share the enjoyment and experience
The benefits and enjoyment of the activities will be offered to all, irrespective of ability. These benefits include:
• The enrichment in the life of each individual through adventure and personal achievement
• The chance to enjoy countryside of exceptional natural beauty
• Recreational opportunities that can be transferred into everyday living”
These holidays are not cheap but special offers are available at different times.
Another website offering similar holidays is DisabledHolidays.com
The Guardian has a report in its archives from 2012 which has the experiences of several types of holiday from the perspective of the disabled person.
Disclaimer: AAD brings the information about these adventure holidays, as a part of its information and awareness ethos. We not endorse individual recreational programmes or holidays. If you’ve been on one of these holidays, why not tell us about it in the comments?