Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Wheelchairs at the Agricultural Show (Part 2)

Today I received a letter from Caroline MacLean written on behalf of the Tiree Agricultural Society in response to my blog dated 6th July entitled Wheelchairs at the Agricultural Show.

I’ll let you read it first before I make any comment.

Dear Gordon,

At our committee meeting this week, it was brought to our attention your Blogspot article. Although this is not addressed to Tiree Agricultural Society, it was agreed to respond to the points raised.

First, the issue of going public rather than approaching the committee. The date of the Annual General Meeting in November of each year is advertised well in advance where the public are invited to attend and raise any matters of concern.

Tiree show is highly regarded for the show of livestock, a ‘shop window’ for the crofters and farmers, as many mainland farmers attend each year from all over the country. We receive letters from judges complementing the committee on the Show and Tiree’s standard of livestock.

We rent the site from Tiree Rural Development for the Show day, it is not a permanent site, therefore making it difficult to provide permanent paths. Last year we paid for the main area to be levelled and reseeded. This produced a firmer base and permanent grass easier to mow than the rougher natural grasses. Next year we hope to improve the upper area. It is a compact site with short access to all sections.

Agricultural Shows are held in grass fields often with a distance to walk to the main area. The committee have experience of attending many mainland Shows and the point raised was that Tiree’s Show is situated on the most level and compact area.

At mainland events people are seen using wheelchairs and also battery operated mobility buggies. From my own personal enquiries last year I know that these buggies can be hired, for a donation, from all Mobility Scotland shops. The closest is in Oban.

We shall assist all we can to give access to the front of the Rural Centre for a drop off and pick up point. We may have to ask you to park the vehicle in the car park thereafter.

Looking forward to seeing you at the Show,

Yours sincerely, Caroline MacLean.

First of all, I’m not entirely convinced that a few lines posted in an online diary which is read by very few people can actually be called ‘going public’. Neither would I call these few lines an ‘article’. It's just me, a guy in Cornaigmore, exercising his right to freedom of speech.

In any case, this is not the first time the Agricultural Society has heard about this problem. Some time ago Tiree Elderly Forum wrote to the Society and asked if anything could be done in the way of installing a pathway of some kind. Unfortunately, the Society could not help.

I sense from the letter that they feel I may have done the Show a disservice. I thought I had been quite complimentary about the Agricultural Show and those who put it together:

“Every year we all look forward to the Tiree Agricultural Show held at the Rural Centre. The organisers do a fantastic job and I’m full of admiration for them.”

Anyway, well done to the Society for the improvements they have carried out and those they have scheduled in the future. We all realise that some kind of a pathway would be ideal but as I pointed out in the blog of 6th July, the Show’s organisers could not be expected to provide such a permanent solution for the problem:

“The organisers of the Show probably don’t have the financial resources to install some kind of temporary causeway to and around the main field for wheelchairs. And let’s face it – it would only be used once a year!”

In my concluding paragraph I wrote:

“No one is to blame here.”

I then threw the matter open for any of my site visitors to suggest ways to overcome the problem. I was hoping that one of my readers might be able to come up with some solution which could be put in to place by wheelchair users themselves and/or those who assist them get around.

I know it's beyond the Show's resources to make a pathway. I made that clear. That's why I thought perhaps my internet readers and I could come up with a solution. Well that's what you get for trying to help, I suppose.

I will be happy to pass on the suggestion regarding mobility buggies to the people concerned although I think the cost of getting them here would be prohibitive to the (in this case) elderly people I'm thinking about.

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