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RSPB staff campaign for better wheelchair access to British countryside

Last modified: 15 May 2015

Dearne Valley, general landscape views

Roy hopes to raise £50,000 for RSPB Old Moor

Image: Andy Hay

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 today [Friday 15 May 2015], on a quest that will cover 68 miles in just 4 days, Roy plans to travel across the north – south link of the Trans-Pennine Trail [note 2], raising awareness and funds to provide better access to nature for those with physical disabilities. And 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 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 there have to spend a lot of time in the countryside, sometimes in hard to reach areas.”

Not one to let that get in the way, 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 RSPB Old Moor nature reserve in Barnsley. 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 mean this year will be a little different to last year. A buggy has been specially designed and attached to my wheelchair so that my 8-month old son, Roy Junior, can join us for the whole ride.”

His wife Anna and friend Chris Christou, who runs Mybility All Terain 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 these nature directives that are now under review and at risk of being weakened. To help us defend nature, visit: 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 RSPB Bempton Cliffs and opened up miles of new accessible trails at RSPB Fairburn Ings. 

Donate to Roy’s Wheelchair Challenge and help make the outdoors accessible to all, by visiting virginmoneygiving.com/wheelchairchallenge2.

You can also follow Roy’s journey on Twitter: @wheelchairchallenge


How you can help

We need nature. Join us, and ask your MP if their Party will Act for Nature, and commit to a Nature and Wellbeing Act in their election manifesto.