Toby Beddoe, Supporter Care Manager within our External Affairs department recently volunteered with our Greenwich Adult Peer Group on a trip to the Sussex coast. Here he shares his experience of how the day went.
The weather could certainly have been kinder for our trip to Sussex from Greenwich; we experienced three seasons, if not quite the fourth, throughout the day. Nevertheless, undaunted, our band of twelve set out in our minibus. We were to take in a visit to The Bradbury Hotel in East Preston (West Sussex) as well as – for those hardy souls up to the challenge – a bracing walk along the Littlehampton shoreline.
The Bradbury Hotel is that rare phenomenon of a hotel dedicated to giving a particular group of disabled people an enjoyable and memorable experience. Of fairly standard appearance, it is nevertheless, the perfect place for people with sight loss to relax away from their day-to-day lives. Carers are also welcome to accompany their blind relatives or friends and take it easy themselves. One of our visually impaired group was back for her fifth recent visit and is definitely an enthusiast.
Lunch was taken in the conservatory overlooking a garden, beyond which is a quite beautiful tree-lined park; perfect for a post-lunch constitutional. There was a hotel tour for those who hadn’t seen in detail was available for prospective guests, while I took to the open air with my walking companion, Pat. Pat’s eyesight began to fail a few years ago, and she admitted she since hasn’t been out on her own as much as she would have liked. However, the sort of companionship and experience offered by the group offers her the kind of days out she enjoyed without being too stifling or over-protective.
Two of the group independently told me that they accepted the physical frailities of growing older but wanted to maintain their independence. The consensus was that even sight-loss and blindness could be tackled if the support network is available. This group, expertly run by RLSB Community Support Worker, Gillian Goodchild, is an important part of that structure and their lives.
Although the weather was very changeable even those who were the least mobile of the group were very keen to come. Despite – or maybe because of – the wind and rain, interspersed, it should be said, with occasional glimpses of the sun, it appeared that everyone, especially after refuelling with a cup of coffee and cake thoroughly enjoyed themselves. Either that, or British stoicism was not going to allow anyone to give any other impression.
Back in Greenwich just before 7pm, I was shattered. The same could not be said for Pat, Emily, George and other travellers. The energy levels of the older members of the group if anything, seemed to have risen and the conversation levels became more animated as the next group meeting was discussed. I then watched in awe as George, guide-stick in hand, made his way slowly but steadily, towards his bus stop to take the next homeward leg of his journey.