For a long time Brownsea Island has been working hard to find a way to welcome wheelchair users to its shores. Now, thanks to the acquisition of a new landing craft, the National Trust will be able to run its own disabled boat service to the island.
The money to buy the craft, named Brownsea Seahorse, came from the Trust’s coastline fund. The Coastline Campaign is celebrating 50 years of work to protect and restore our beautiful coast, and to improve access so everybody can enjoy it.
In the past the Trust has worked with other boat companies but changes to boats and equipment have meant that for many years it hasn’t been possible to bring disabled visitors across the water.
Now Brownsea Seahorse will be able to offer a new bookable service between Sandbanks and the island.
Thanks to the cooperation and support of the Sandbanks Yacht Company, she will run a bookable service for wheelchair users on set days on a trial basis until the end of the season. Full details and schedule will be updated on the National Trust’s website.
Angela Cott, General Manager for Brownsea Island said: ‘We have been trying to find solutions to this challenge for a long time and it is truly fantastic to finally be able to offer access to all to come here and explore Brownsea Island.
‘Enjoying this beautiful island is a really special experience and the more people who are able to visit the better. Whether making the most of the wildlife, joining in with family activities or exploring the history of the island, there is so much for everyone to make the most of and we are keen for all to be able to visit.’
When visitors arrive on Brownsea Island they will be able to explore the island, either using their own wheelchairs or borrowing one of the new Mountain Trikes from the National Trust. These manual wheelchairs cope well with our uneven terrain and are easy to manoeuvre across the undulating ground.
The Trust is also running a fundraising project which will hopefully enable them to buy a wheelchair accessible vehicle so that all visitors can join in with volunteer run tours of the island.
Brownsea Island is cared for by the National Trust and Dorset Wildlife Trust who look after a nature reserve on the island.
All of the buildings on Brownsea are already fully accessible so all visitors can make the most of our reception, café, gift shop, visitor centre and outdoor centre, as well as the Dorset Wildlife Trust Information Centre. There is also wheelchair access to Dorset Wildlife Trust’s MacDonald hide and Low hide, overlooking the spectacular bird spectacles on the Brownsea Island Lagoon.
Chris Thain from the Dorset Wildlife Trust on Brownsea said: ‘Along with the National Trust, Dorset Wildlife Trust is delighted to welcome wheelchair users to the island. At this time of year the birds on the lagoon are such a fantastic sight, and it’s great to be able to share that with as many visitors to the island as possible.’
For further press information and images please contact:
Hannah Tuck, Acting Visitor Services and Enterprises Manager, 01202 492165 / 07901330322
Allan King/Aimee Endsor, National Trust SW Press Office 01275 378452
The National Trust blog is www.NTSouthWest.co.uk