Sidford volunteer builds bridge for disabled youngsters

4 March 2019

WESC Foundation volunteer Don
WESC Foundation volunteer Don

When WESC Foundation needed a helping hand to improve access at its East Devon horticulture site, Sidford resident Don Peek jumped at the chance to get involved.

Mr Peek volunteers for several hours a week at “WESC Country Works” in West Hill, near Ottery St Mary. He started volunteering after helping out one summer, and was impressed by the concept of the project and its potential.

Together with another volunteer, Steve Lawrence from Cranbrook, he helped staff to build a new bridge to enable wheelchair access between the meadow and forest. Timber for the project was all been sourced from the site: sacrificing three conifers from the forest area to build the foundations of the bridge will also help to prolong the life of oak trees which are currently being crowded-out. Each piece of wood weighed over a tonne, and was been moved into place using levers, rollers and a tractor.

Patrick Phillips – Horticulture Project Leader for WESC Foundation – has been working for two years to develop the vision for the project, which has involved improving the infrastructure and creating new learning environments. He said:

“Since we took over the management of the site in 2016 we have worked tirelessly to develop it as a resource for the young people who access our education, care and support services.

“The whole site is a really a huge, outdoor classroom, and it has been important to look at ways to continually improve access around the different zones. I am immensely grateful to all our volunteers who plan a key role in making this happen.”

WESC Foundation is developing the facility for its children and young adults, all of whom have a visual impairment and other complex needs, and also arranges access for other community groups, charities and conservation volunteers. The 10 acre site includes two polytunnels, a huge glass house, propagating green house, fruit trees, jungle garden, pond and a Forest School.  WESC Foundation also has a number of charity shops in the area, including on Sidmouth High Street.

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