The L.O.W. Down (Life on Wheels)

The L.O.W. Down (Life on Wheels)

Becky Hedley

Access to nature reserves and green spaces isn't always as straightforward to everyone as it would seem.

Time spent outdoors has always featured in my life; trips up the Long Mynd, picnics at Cardingmill Valley, cycling around Shropshire’s lanes, to ‘sleepy village’ vacations in places such as Clee St Margaret, to hunting for four leaf clovers in our Shrewsbury back garden, or walking the lanes and river banks.

This love of nature was then shared with my husband and our two children. A love of exploring some of the Wildlife Trusts reserves, fossil and bug hunting, was a regular feature of our family outings, and days spent at home in the garden.

My passion in nature is simply spending time exploring these amazing places, enjoying the incredible views and being immersed in the atmosphere, sights and sounds. 

Becky Hedley

I have a condition called CMT (Herediatry Sensory Neuropathy) which is progressive. It affects the nerve and muscle function in my feet, legs and hands, and the condition progresses at unpredictable rates.  Currently, there are no cures, however, raising awareness of the condition and research will, I hope, change this for future generations.  

We have lived near Oswestry for the last 20 years and as my condition has deteriorated, I have gone from being a decent walker, to a very wobbly walker, to a part time crutch user, and now an ambulent wheelchair user.  This has given me a very personal experience of how access to nature and our towns and villages, can be incredibly difficult in some areas.  

I want to help others with disabilities access nature in Shropshire, wherever possible, but without spoiling natural habitats and landscapes.  

Pathways could be created that allow walkers and ‘wheelywalkers’ to enjoy our beautiful county.  Viewing platforms can be created that are accessible for all.  Ramps, alongside steps, and handrails and benches for those with poor mobility.  Sensory and audio facilities for visually impaired people, and detailed information available on websites.  This enables us all to plan ahead a little and know what to expect before visiting.

The best days out for me and my family are those that don’t remind me of the things I can’t do, but enhance what I can.

If the information is available to start with, then we can all make plans based on our individual needs.  Accessibility and inclusion is about having choice and opportunities. With clear information, and thoughtful design there are many locations in Shropshire, that could be made more accessible.  

I hope to help by testing out some of the reserves in and out of my wheelchair, and feeding back to the Wildlife Trust.

Click here to read more of the blogs Becky has written during lockdown