A new adventure hub in the South Lakes that specifically includes people with disabilities has launched a drop-fronted powerboat that almost any wheelchair user can access – thanks to more than £16,000 of funding.
‘Anyone Can’, is the brainchild of married couple Chris and Vicky Binks, who secured European Rural Development Funding for the boat – as well as further cash for a fleet of canoes designed to accommodate a range of needs.
To celebrate the expansion, local people are being invited to try-out the new boats – in return for a donation of just £5 to the Fell Foot off-road wheelchair fund, on October 19 at the new disabled-friendly facilities, located on the southern tip of Windermere.
Inspired by the recent increase in awareness of the need for accessible adventures, the couple was spurred-on by the creation of The National Trust’s first publicly accessible ‘Changing Place’ at Fell Foot Park, which includes toilet facilities for people who can’t get out of a wheelchair unaided; step-free access to the site’s new ‘active base’ (pictured) and café; and the launch of a rough terrain wheelchair to help users easily access the facility.
The development at Fell Foot is now also used as the primary launching and meeting point for most of Anyone Can’s water sports activities. Chris says, “’Anyone Can’ differs from other disability adventure organisations in that it specialises in non-organised groups, such as friends, families or individuals with disabilities, basically the same kind of groups that able-bodied people experience regularly without a second thought. The Lake District has long been a leading destination for people with disabilities to access the stunning beauty of Cumbria, with organised groups travelling the length of the country to visit charities steeped in the tradition of adventure for all.
“People with disabilities can find accessing adventure a challenge when they look to arrange the kind of experiences people take for granted. It’s much more difficult than picking up the phone and booking something. There are transport issues, the question of whether you can get into the kit, whether there are suitable accessible facilities or even whether the person on the phone really understands your needs”.
With those concerns in-mind, Chris and Vicky’s dream premise of “anyone can”, became the name of the business – which the couple hopes will see disabled adventure-seekers come to the South Lakes from right across the country. Expanded opportunities will also see exciting expeditions offered in Scotland and abroad for those with a taste for further adventure.
Chris continues, “The great thing for Cumbrians is that we are joining a growing family of local small businesses and charities making it possible for people to access their local mountains, river and lakes. We are so pleased to be able to access the amazing facilities at Fell Foot, which is a brilliant site.
“People can spend the day with us here knowing that everything they need is easily accessible. Coupling the ease of accessing the South Lakes by public transport – as far as Oxenholme, the latest developments in accessible holiday accommodation, a truly accessible day base and our ability to deliver amazing adventures to those with a huge range of needs, makes the Lake District a really compelling attraction for disabled adventurers from anywhere in the county.”