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Stepping Out: Walks for Carers

Sissinghurst Castle Gardens: 29 June 2018

A sizzling summer’s day at Sissinghurst provided the venue for Kent Ramblers’  fourth outing of the year with the Stepping Out carers’ walk group.  The stunning gardens, cooling woodlands and winding lakeside paths of the grade 1 listed National Trust property were the ideal backdrop for two walks, one shorter and wheelchair accessible, the other a longer ramble round the estate.

The short walk was remarkable for the synchronised beauty of the gardens and the sheer amount of foliage that Bill managed to collect around the wheels of his mobility scooter.  But, if the tight corners of the famous White and Rose Gardens – created by the writer Vita Sackville West and her husband Harold Nicholson in the 1930s – were obstacles to be overcome, the welcome of the National Trust property in general could not have been greater.

The group was able to take advantage of two different National Trust schemes designed to help carers and people with a disability enjoy a full range of the Trusts’ properties nationwide.  The Essential Companions scheme allows free admittance for carers accompanied by the person they care for and groups connected to local or national charities can be offered half price entry through the Links Pass scheme.  Both good to know.

“It is wonderful to hear that the ‘Stepping Out’ group had such a lovely day at Sissinghurst and were able to benefit from our free entry for essential companions and carers of disabled people, said Heather Smith, the National Trust’s Equality Specialist.  “I look forward to hearing more about the day and hope we can welcome many more visits like this as we continue to make our places accessible for all.”

The connection between Stepping Out and the National Trust is set to continue.  Two of the group’s regular walkers and Dementia campaigners, Wayne Eaton and Lorraine Brown, have written a report on what every public venue – from the smallest cafe to NT’s glorious roster of homes & gardens could do to make their environments more dementia-friendly. The National Trust has promised to look at it and, where possible, incorporate changes in their provision.

And finally a huge thanks to Pfizer Limited for their generous contribution which allowed the whole group to enjoy a convivial lunch together in the bursting-at-the-seams but faultlessly friendly Sissinghurst cafe.