Did you watch our online video series, Making Memories? The three episodes follow the Liversidge family on an adventure-packed trip to the Bendrigg Trust.
Jason Liversidge – father to Lilly and Poppy, and husband to Liz – has motor neurone disease, a progressive and life-limiting condition that affects his ability to move and talk. The family has been supported by both the MCF and the Province of Yorkshire, North and East Ridings since his diagnosis. The Bendrigg Trust is a residential activity centre in Cumbria that specialises in high quality outdoor learning courses for disabled and disadvantaged people. We gave the Trust a £40,000 grant in 2017.
Our marketing manager travelled to Cumbria to meet Jason and his family, and capture their adventures on camera.
The journey to Kendal takes six hours by train, so I decide to travel up the night before the family are due to arrive. The cold air hits me as soon as I step off the train… I hope I packed enough layers! I meet the film crew at the hotel and we grab a bite to eat while brainstorming ideas for tomorrow’s shoot. Then it’s off to bed to get a good night’s sleep!
The family aren’t due to arrive until lunchtime, but we’re up bright and early to make our way to the Bendrigg Trust. Eventually, we pull up outside a collection of buildings surrounded by miles of spectacular views of the Cumbrian countryside.
We have a couple of minutes to breathe in the fresh air before we head inside to meet Nick, Principal of the Bendrigg Trust, who’s the first to be interviewed. Nick is a natural and we get everything in one take! He tells us about all of the fully-inclusive activities available, from caving to canoeing to challenge activities. He tells us:
“It’s absolutely essential that we have funding from organisations like the MCF. Without it we wouldn’t be able to provide the services we do.”
I get a text from Liz to tell us they’re nearly here, so we rush down to Acorn House, the residential building where the family will be staying. A few minutes later, they park up and start unpacking.
“As you can see, we don’t travel light!” Liz tells me as they pile up bags, boxes and equipment – everyone lends a hand, including six-year-old Lilly and four-year-old Poppy who shuffle along with a plastic chest of drawers. Jason is the last out of the van, helped by his carer, Thelma, in his all-terrain 4×4 electric wheelchair which he refers to as ‘The Terminator’.
Our Outdoor Tutor, Jonny, gives us a tour of Acorn House and shows us the ceiling hoists funded by the MCF grant. The hoists mean that severely disabled people can move seamlessly around and between the bathroom and bedroom. The family seem impressed with the facilities.
“You don’t get many places as fully accessible as this that enable Jason to participate in things that able-bodied people can do,” Liz tells me.
Once everyone is settled in, we head off for the day’s activities! We spend a jam-packed afternoon zip wiring and tube sliding – when Jason reaches the bottom of the slide with Liz, I’m struck for the first time by the severity of his disability when it takes five of us to lift him from the ground to his wheelchair.
We then head out on a nature walk, which gives me a good opportunity to chat to Liz. She tells me about Jason’s diagnosis. He was fit and healthy up until a few years ago when he started experiencing weakness in his right thumb. It took a long time for doctors to diagnose motor neurone disease, and now he is almost totally paralysed.