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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.