Access For All

by Gerry Lynch last modified 11 Sep, 2015 09:08 AM

Church-led project opens lovely stretch of Dorset riverside to mobility impaired visitors for first time.

Access For All

Bishop Nicholas and Canon Chris Tebbutt enjoy some of the River Stour’s rich bounty of wildlife

A partnership between Church, school and the community has seen a beautiful stretch of the River Stour in Canford Magna opened to visitors with mobility impairments for the first time. 

The Kingfisher Riverside Project brought together Canford Magna Parish Church and Canford School to open an accessible viewing platform next to the school’s boathouse, enabling everyone to enjoy the wildlife regardless of their level of physical ability. RSPB is helping co-ordinate a team of volunteers to survey the natural history of the area and welcome visitors with guided walks and wildlife talks on the platform, while the Parish will provide teas to visiting groups. 

The boathouse is an active area for the school and only open to disability-focused groups who have booked their visit with the Project administrator at other times. 

The Bishop of Salisbury, the Right Revd Nicholas Holtam, helped launch the project, and said, “This project enables the diversity of God’s creation to be enjoyed by the wonderful diversity God has created in humanity.”

Canon Chris Tebbutt, Team Rector of Canford Magna, added, “The idea behind Kingfisher is to make everything God and all he has given us accessible to everyone. The project boosts inclusion, wellbeing, our environment and, at its best, our spirituality.”

Ben Vessey, Headmaster of Canford School, underscored the school’s support for the project, saying, “We are part of the Canford community and that means serving the wider community. It is exciting to do something as tangible as this, and pupils will get involved in supporting disabled visitors.”

Claire Young of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) outlined the rich range of wildlife on this stretch of the River Stour.

“The Kingfisher, for which the project is named, is one of a rich variety of birds active on this part of the river”, said Claire “there are also buzzards, Little Grebes, elegant Little Egrets as well as the more common ducks and swans. We also have otters around dawn and dusk, which were once very rare, water voles which make a distinctive plop when they jump into the river, and a riot of insects and butterflies.”

Learn more about the project or volunteer to help with visitors and teas at http://canfordparish.org/kingfisher/

More photos from the launch are available here.

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