Flambards, almost the best day of the week.

Did you hear the one about the boy who took his own toilet to a theme park?

No, it isn’t a joke. It actually happened.

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Parked inside Flambards.
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Spot the Mobiloo!

It was the only way this boy could “go” when at the theme park.

Flambards theme park in Helston, Cornwall, was always Adam’s favourite place to go. He cannot stand or walk but he does love their rides and the fantastic museum.

It really is a wonderful place to go and I would recommend it to anyone.

Well, almost anyone…

If a member of your family needs a hoist and bench in order to use a toilet, or to have pads changed, I am afraid that you might have to do the same as me – take your own!

Or not go, which would be a shame as it is a great place with so much to do.

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Grandad and Adam carsIMG_0144

Do you see a disabled child?

Or do you see a child having fun?

It was a wonderful, quiet day as the Easter holidays were over in Cornwall.
Another wonderful bonus of home education!

On this day, eighteen people came along with Adam.
They came that day because Adam could go. 
All purchased tickets.
All but two purchased lunch in the park.

It isn’t just the “purple pound” that these attractions are missing but also that of their friends and family. Investing in more accessible toilet facilities so that disabled people with higher care needs can visit too is clearly a good way to increase visitor numbers!

It was a brilliant day, with smiles, laughter and squeals of delight.​


Adam was so happy all day long.

At the end of the day he asked if we could visit again the next day.
But we couldn’t keep the Mobiloo.
So I had to said say no.

But I promised him I would bring him again another day.

Both of my sons are annual passholders.
One can visit any time he likes.
The other can only visit if I can hire the Mobiloo.
He shouldn’t be treated less favourably due to disability.

Adam is one of hundreds of thousands of people in this country who need these facilities.
Disability is not new. These facilities are not new.

And the need has been known about at Flambards for some time.

I first contacted Flambards on June 2nd 2016 explaining the need for Changing Places toilets and informing them that they can be fitted into smaller spaces too.

The manager came back with a positive sounding response.

Reply from Flambards

I was delighted and replied with a gushing message about how great this was and that I wish I had asked sooner. I also praised the staff and offered to help with publicising the facility when it opened.
Great attractions deserve to be praised!

August 2nd I sent another e-mail asking if there was any more information about the plans for the facilities.
Another great response.

Flambards 2nd reply

In February 2017,  I contacted Flambards again.
No reply.
A friend then contacted them on my behalf.
No progress had been made, although the manager was still keen.

My good friend Tony Clough MBE sent an e-mail to Ian Cunningham, who is the director of the company which owns Flambards, also copying in the manager.

Mr Cunningham sent an e-mail response to his manager but I am not sure he intended to also copy in my friend and fellow campaigner.
This is his reply.

Ian Cunningham

The tone of this suggests to me that Mr Cunningham wanted his manager to simply fob us off. It certainly does not suggest that he has looked into the options.

The manager deserves better.
Disabled people deserve better.

Flambards has a major new ride planned. According to local press “The new ride is part of our ongoing programme of investment in the park.”

But no investment planned which would enable disabled people to use a toilet with dignity.

On the day of our visit, made possible by bringing the Mobiloo, Adam was not the only person to use it.

I saw a family with a child using a specialist buggy and asked them if they needed a changing table for his toileting needs.
The dad looked tired and said,

“We did twenty minutes ago. We had to change him on the grass.”

I directed them to the location of the Mobiloo to make the rest of their day more pleasant.

How often are big children (and possibly adults) lying on the grass to have pads changed?

Picnic on the grass anyone?

Welcome to Flambards!


Just for interest…

Cornwall Services invested £6,500 in their accessible toilet. It was fitted into an existing space and it has brought customers in who would not have gone in before. It brought an enormous amount of interest and goodwill to their business and they were even featured on the Channel 4 news as a compassionate and brilliant business.

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It is a shame that one of the major attractions in Cornwall didn’t respond in a similar way.

I do believe that the manager of Flambards is a good man who cares.
He saw my son smile, he saw our friends enjoying time together and he saw what can be done in the short term. He was also kind enough to enable us to park the Mobiloo inside the park, which saved us time when Adam needed the facilities.

The manager also gave Adam and I our annual passes, although I made it clear that I was intending to purchase them and did not expect this. I do think he is a good man who felt bad that a child could not visit Flambards without the added effort and expense of hiring a toilet.

I also know that their staff are fantastic. They all spoke to Adam and made him feel that he mattered.

Hopefully, the Directors will learn from their excellent staff.


9 thoughts on “Flambards, almost the best day of the week.

  1. Adam’s friend Jonas would like to have a social time with you there. Amazing how an accessible loo would provide these opportunities and stop such unnecessary isolation and exclusion for so many.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Absolutely! How many families are staying at home instead of living full lives?

      I know many disabled people who crave the physical sensory input that theme parks can provide. Lack of accessible toilets should not be a barrier.

      Like

  2. Could the manager be persuaded to cover the hire costs of Mobiloo? It would be great if this could happen a few times a year on designated Access days. You could even offer to help publicise it! Eventually the directors would realise that the permanent provision of facilities is a good investment.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Although I am hoping for more than just a few times over the year. Otherwise, my disabled passholder is definitely being treated much less favourably than his able bodied brother.

      Like

  3. So happy that Adam enjoyed his day courtesy of the Mobiloo.
    Sounds like the Manager at Flambards has been let down by the Director. Unbelievable that such a major attraction has not got adequate toilet facilities.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is hard to understand that they would not have wanted to make improvements. Especially when they know that something as essential as toilet facilities are causing people to be excluded.

      Knowing that people are excluded is bad enough, but they should feel ashamed to know that a big child had to lay in a public area to have a pad changed that day.

      Like

  4. Do you feel this is a typical response? The people on the ground would like to do more, but those in their ivory towers are less inclined to see the bigger picture of investing in a changing places toilet? I would be interested to know of any responses you have had from any National Trust properties as we are members, and they are the places we enjoy visiting.
    So happy Adam enjoyed his day and I’m sure you made an impact!

    Like

    1. Responses vary entirely, from great people like Cornwall Services who just understood what it meant and made it a priority to Lands End who just don’t seem to care. And in between there are ones like this where the people on the ground are amazing and places like Wild Futures (very small animal charity) who I didn’t ask but they learned about the facilities and asked for more information. Similarly, I didn’t ask the team at Camel Creek, they simply saw my posts on Twitter about accessibility and got in touch to find out more.

      I haven’t approached the National Trust myself but know people who have and the responses have not been promising.

      The report from The Women and Equalities Committee today will hopefully move things in the right direction though.

      Liked by 1 person

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