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Todsworthy Farm Holidays' owner, Jonathan Pellow, knows first-hand what it's like to stay away from home with accessibility needs, having been left paralysed from the chest down by an accident in 1996.
The experience, he says, "totally changed my attitude and views to my business and drove me to convert two traditional barns on the farm into self-catering cottages, suitably designed for people with disabilities".
The renovations were undertaken while maintaining the original character and features of the cottages, with underfloor heating, the widening of doors and en suite wet rooms all installed sympathetically. Folding shower seats are included under the shower as well as a wheeled shower chair that can be manoeuvered from the bed to the shower area. The showerhead can be used from sitting to standing positions and handrails are located at suitable places for those who may be ambulant.
The sinks have plenty of space under them for wheelchair users, along with lever taps for greater ease of use for those that have limited movement or arthritic problems, and an alarm system is present in the downstairs bathroom.
Profiling beds have been provided in the downstairs bedrooms, and pressure-relieving mattresses can be supplied when necessary.
Mobile hoists are available and, after having consulted with a local disability campaigner, the farm is now able to provide an overhead gantry hoist system.
In terms of the fixtures and fittings, all the ground floor rooms have lowered light switches, raised sockets and touch lamps as standard. There are also neon reflectors behind all light switches on the ground floor, which are slightly illuminated in the dark and so easy to find. Accessible sinks and hobs are also standard and have wheelchair access Pellow says both of the cottages are dog-friendly, so assistance and family dogs can also feel at home and be well catered for. Meanwhile, the outside area of the cottages are completely wheelchair friendly with level access and a flat tarmac area for the parking of cars.
Todsworthy Farm Holidays advertises specifically to reach an audience with disabilities on websites targeting disabled accommodation. Its website has all the information required for guests to make an informed choice about staying, including an access statement and details of local care providers and district nurses.
As you would expect of a farm with a tetraplegic owner, the entire site is accessible, with guests encouraged to meet the animals and even large electric wheelchairs are able to access all of the farm.
The judges recognised that not all hospitality operations would or could go to such lengths to satisfy guests with accessibility needs, but that it was impossible to overlook such a shining example of what was possible.
And with turnover increasing year on year, Todsworthy Farm Holidays has established a compelling business case that makes it a worthy winner of this award.
What the judges said
"When I read this entry, I thought, ‘this is somewhere I'd want to stay'. The accommodation is well thought out and the addition of a working farm adds an extra element to a break."
a wide range of disabilities."
There was no shortlist for this award
David Battersby OBE, Hospitality and Leisure Manpower
Ross Calladine, VisitEngland
Helen Dolphin, Helen Dolphin Consultancy
Arnold Fewell, AVF Marketing
Carrie-Ann Lightley, Tourism for All UK
Brian Seaman, Access New Business
Matt Wynes, Whizz-Kidz