Wheelchair challenge raises £23,000 for the RSPB


With over 100 friends, 29 machines and 16 dogs, Roy Taylor successfully completed his 215-mile Coast to Coast wheelchair challenge (see this article) and raised over £23,000 for the RSPB.

Roy — who works for the RSPB in northern England — and his wife Anna set out from Southport along the Trans Pennine Trail, to reach Hornsea in just ten days. The aim of the challenge was to highlight the problems of inaccessibility in the countryside and to raise funds to improve accessibility on the RSPB's 20 northern nature reserves. Over 100 friends, family and colleagues gave up their time to take part in the walk and provide support on the way. And helping to make the journey inclusive for all, participants used a variety of methods to get them from A to B, including two wheelchairs, two trampers, two trikes, 17 bikes, one electric bike, four scooters and a buggy.

Roy said: "The friendship, support, energy, humour and kindness of everyone who supported us made the journey an incredibly humbling and emotional experience for Anna and me. It was an experience which will leave a deep impression on our lives. We can't thank everyone enough."

Roy Taylor during his Wheelchair Challenge (Photo: Anna Taylor).

The journey wasn't without obstacles, which helped to highlight the numerous issues people with mobility issues, and families with pushchairs, face on a daily basis. Challenges included kissing gates, A-frames, steps, chicanes and wooden sleepers. On a number of occasions, Roy's FourX — a four-wheel-drive wheelchair — had to be dismantled to allow it to fit through the various obstacles.

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Roy recounted: "On one occasion we were close to giving up, as my wheelchair just couldn't get through a gate which had double wooden sleepers. Luckily a group of workmen nearby came to the rescue and lifted the FourX over the obstacle. We're so grateful for their help."

However, they came across a number of innovations that made the going much easier, including different designs of A-frames and gates operated by Radar keys, which allow disabled people (who hold a Radar key) to open gates where needed.

Roy's job now is to complete accessibility audits of the RSPB's northern nature reserves, produce a report for the Trans Pennine Trail (TPT) Executive Committee on how accessibility on the trail can be improved, and ensure that all the money raised is spent on implementing the changes identified on RSPB reserves over the next year.

Roy added: "It is my pledge that the Coast to Coast Challenge will immeasurably improve accessibility — be it for wheelchairs, families or those with other mobility issues — and that RSPB nature reserves in northern England will be exemplars of accessibility in the countryside."

To date, the challenge has raised £23,890.53 (inc. Gift Aid) including donations from hotels and B&Bs used along the route, a £2,500 donation from United Utilities, who the RSPB works with at their Dove Stone site, and £1,000 each from John Laing, who Anna used to work with, and Naturetrek, who Roy has led tours for.

For a daily account of how the challenge went, visit Roy's blog (roy215miles.blogspot.co.uk) or to donate money, visit www.virginmoneygiving.com/roy215miles.

Written by: RSPB