Countryside access for all

Last year, Roy Taylor - here accompanied by his wife and friends - raised more than £23,000; can he beat that figure this year? Photo: www.rspb-images.org.
Last year, Roy Taylor - here accompanied by his wife and friends - raised more than £23,000; can he beat that figure this year? Photo: www.rspb-images.org.
An RSPB member of staff has begun a campaign for better wheelchair access to British countryside, including its reserves.

With some of the most beautiful landscapes, stunning natural spectacles and diverse habitats, it seems a shame that some parts of the British countryside are still unreachable to those that aren’t free to travel by foot. The RSPB’s Roy Taylor plans to change all that.

Starting tomorrow (Friday 15 May 2015), Roy plans to travel across the north-south link of the Trans-Pennine Trail on a quest that will cover 68 miles in just four days, raising awareness and funds to provide better access to nature for those with physical disabilities; what’s more, he’ll be completing the feat in his wheelchair.

Roy said: “I have first-hand knowledge of what it’s like for those that have difficulty accessing certain areas of the outdoors as I was diagnosed with the terminal and debilitating illness Motor Neurone Disease in 2013. This had the potential to affect my ability to do my job as I’m an Area Reserve Manager with the RSPB and have to spend a lot of time in the countryside, sometimes in hard-to-reach areas.”

Not one to let such hurdles get in the way, and having raised more than £23,000 for the same cause last year, he now plans to raise £50,000 to improve RSPB reserves so they can be enjoyed by all. The money raised will go towards a new fully accessible wildlife hide and associated wildlife viewing experience at the Old Moor RSPB in Barnsley, South Yorkshire. The hide will be 'state of the art' and works will also include the creation of new natural habitats in front of it, to ensure unrivalled wildlife viewing opportunities for all visitors.

Roy added: “A new addition to the Taylor family means that this year will be a little different to last year. A buggy has been specially designed and attached to my wheelchair so that my eight-month old son, Roy Junior, can join us for the whole ride.” His wife Anna and friend Chris Christou, who runs Mybility All Terrain Wheelchairs, will also be taking part.

During Roy’s four-day challenge, he will pass through some breathtaking landscape and key wildlife habitats including the South Pennine Moors, which is a Special Protected Area under the EU Nature Directives. The RSPB is one of 100 organisations that have united in order to defend the directives, which are now under review and at risk of being weakened. To help us defend nature, visit: www.rspb.org.uk/defendnature.

This is Roy’s second wheelchair challenge. Last year he took his wheelchair coast to coast, covering a whopping 215 miles and raising £25,000 for other RSPB reserves in Northern England, with over 100 friends, colleagues and new acquaintances walking alongside him. Donations went towards new disabled seabird viewing platforms at Bempton Cliffs RSPB and opened up miles of new accessible trails at Fairburn Ings RSPB.

Donate to Roy’s Wheelchair Challenge and help make the outdoors accessible to all, by visiting www.virginmoneygiving.com/wheelchairchallenge2. You can also follow Roy’s journey on Twitter: @wheelchairchallenge.