Date Posted: 5 December 2017
To celebrate International Volunteer Day, we wanted to shine a light on two of our Heritage Ability Champions, Reuben and Andy.
What is a Heritage Ability Champion?
A Heritage Ability Champion acts as an ambassador for the project, working with one of our heritage places to help them on their accessible journey. They help spread the word locally about the changes at the site, build links with the local community and disability groups and promote this great cause.
It's thanks to them that we can spread the word about the accessible improvements these places are making, so they can be enjoyed by everyone.
Spotlight on: Reuben Tubbs
Reuben was appointed as the project's first Heritage Ability Champion. Reuben has been a longstanding volunteer at one of our heritage destinations, National Trust Killerton in Exeter. It was through our work with Killerton that Reuben became aware of the Heritage Ability project, and the difference it’s making to people with disabilities.
"Due to being long-term unemployed, it was suggested that volunteering would be a good way of boosting my confidence and people skills. Killerton is only 3 miles away from where I live, so I got in touch with them and a meeting was arranged to discuss options etc. They suggested that Budlake Post Office Museum on the estate would be a good place to start, so in April 2015 I began my volunteering down there. After the end of the summer I wanted to help in Killerton House over the winter, so that’s when I became a room guide. Now I split my time between these two roles. Earlier this year, Killerton obtained an off-road mobility scooter, and I was asked if I would be willing to do a short film to promote this. I took the Tramper out around the Parkland Trail – with the team filming as we went, which was great fun. Living Options Devon shared this on their Facebook page, and this flagged up on my news feed, where I saw they were also advertising for a Heritage Ability Champion. Having used the Tramper and being able to see parts of Killerton Parkland I would never be able to get to myself before, I felt that becoming a Heritage Ability Champion would be really rewarding as I have first-hand experience of the benefits of using the Tramper."
Spotlight on: Andy Fiolet
Andy became interested in the project after seeing a call to action for volunteers in a local Dorset publication. As a bit of an adventurer, he got in touch and was happy to make the trip down to meet the team at the Living Options Devon base to chat about the project further. On his visit, he also explored the Tramper route at Haldon Forest!
"I'm a forty nine year old male from Dorset and became interested in Heritage Ability and their providing of trampers to various heritage sites as this allows access to sites which had previously been impossible/difficult to get around for individuals needing to use wheelchairs or the usual mobility scooters. The plan of Heritage Ability is to provide help in improving access to these sites for everybody and this seems brilliant to me as being able to see these sites feels marvellous and surely should be available to all. Understandably the more volunteers that can in any way get involved means that it will be easier and quicker for Heritage Ability to fully accomplish their plan."