Holidays to remember
PUBLISHED: 06:30 01 September 2014
A break from routine, a sense of freedom and a little luxury - three aspects that we all look forward to in our holidays. For some people who have disabilities and special care requirements, these three things can prove elusive. But as more businesses around the county look towards improving facilities, thinking creatively, and understanding the needs of a wider range of potential visitors, Norfolk's holiday industry has so much it can offer.
Kate May, communications officer with Equal Lives, formerly Norfolk Coalition of Disabled People, based at Framingham Pigot, near Norwich, says: “I think Norfolk tourism is getting there, and we have organisations come to us to ask our opinions on how to improve what they are doing. What we are about is uniting people of all ages who face disabling barriers to get their voices heard, so we encourage businesses and organisations to look at the world through a different person’s eyes and remove those barriers. I think it is happening.”
From self-catering cottages, holiday park mobile homes, and bed and breakfasts designed with wheelchair-friendly interiors as well as access ramps, to specialised award-winning destinations like Park House Hotel on the Royal Sandringham Estate, Norfolk has a range of interesting and inclusive holiday options that can make all the difference to people whose mobility is limited or who have particular needs around personal and social care.
Holiday with history
Park House Hotel is run by Leonard Cheshire Disability, which campaigns to change attitudes to disability and which supports disabled people all over the world. It was the childhood home of Princess Diana, and had been built in 1863 at the request of the Prince of Wales, future King Edward VII. After the departure of the Spencer family in 1974, Park House stood empty until in 1983 The Queen, patron of Leonard Cheshire Disability, offered the house for the trust to use. A nationwide appeal was launched to raise £1.6 million to help convert the house into a hotel for the use of disabled people, their carers and companions. The hotel was officially open by The Queen in July 1987 and today has 16 bedrooms – eight singles and eight twin – plus spacious public rooms, a swimming pool, library, shop and conservatory. The hotel is equipped to high standards, with lifts, ramps and automatic doors, and has an experienced in-house care team on duty around the clock.
Manager Tess Gilder says: “We do provide support if people need it as well to enable our guests to be as independent as they want to be and to give them a choice, such that you or I take for granted when we have a holiday.”
Park House Hotel, Sandringham, near King’s Lynn, PE35 6EH; 01485 543000; www.parkhousehotel.org.uk
Start your search
Useful websites that may be able to help you find the ideal holiday in Norfolk include:
For links to support providers you may need on your holiday in Norfolk, such as mobility scooters or wheelchair hire, companionship and personal care help, take a look at www.disabilityholidaysguide.com
For helpful signposting to information as varied as a disabled angling club in Norwich, beach wheelchairs in Great Yarmouth and recommendation for ramps at the coast and around The Broads, check out www.accessiblecountryside.org.uk/east/norfolk
Helping each other
Equal Lives provides advice, information and advocacy, as well as campaigning and supporting other organisations. It is looking for more volunteers to get involved in its work - if you’re interested in taking part, or seeing the help of Equal Lives, call 01508 491210 or visit the website www.equallives.org.uk
We would love to share your recommendations of great disability-friendly holiday destinations around Norfolk. Who is doing it right?
Write to us at EDP Norfolk magazine, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich, NR1 1RE; firstname.lastname@example.org; Tweet to @NorfolkMagazine or send us a Facebook message at facebook/edpnorfolk.