Following a £30,000 lottery grant, the Network Carradale group located on the scenic Kintyre Peninsula in Argyll, Scotland, will be opening their new outdoor activity centre at 12 noon, 29 March 2013, with forest trails that are accessible to disabled people, thanks to the acquisition of a BBC Top Gear winning TGA Breeze.

Carradale was once a busy fishing village and a popular holiday destination served by the Clyde steamers however today it is more popular with visitors looking for an outdoor experience which includes forest trekking, wildlife spotting and mountain biking. The Network Carradale group, who originally managed a small café where the new outdoor activity centre will open, is a community business and registered charity that is now lottery funded and consists of 11 local directors. The original tearoom has been renovated and will simultaneously open with a new mountain bike hire centre, workshop and heritage museum. During the opening day, visitors with mobility issues will be able to safely try out the mobility scooters for free on a test track and mountain bikes will be available without charge for a limited period. The enhanced tearoom will be open to welcoming all visitors including local residents, tourists, journalists, local dignitaries and members of the Carradale Network group.

Inclusion for everyone, regardless of ability, is a key focus for the new outdoor activity centre, which has resulted in the Carradale centre purchasing a TGA Breeze mobility scooter. Primarily designed to be a luxury mobility scooter for everyday use, the Breeze also has superb off road capabilities that were demonstrated on the BBC Top Gear TV programme last year. This feature was seen by over 8 million viewers including Jim Galbraith, one of the Carradale Directors, which sparked his group’s idea to focus on ‘accessibility for all’ at the new outdoor activity centre. Jim explains: “When I saw how well the TGA Breeze performed climbing up a Welsh mountainside on BBC Top Gear, I was very impressed. I hadn’t realised that certain mobility scooters had these superb off road capabilities and this opened up my mind to the Breeze’s suitability for our centre. The terrain the Breeze tackled was extreme during this TV programme and consisted of slippy mud, steep inclines and rocky paths that are also common in our area here in Argyll. However, to ensure suitability for a wide range of disabled visitors, we are organising a range of less extreme trails that start and finish at the centre and will be graded according to rider ability, distance and terrain.

The Breeze with its 30-mile range will have ample battery power to complete these routes and its impressive active suspension will easily deliver a smooth and stable ride for users during the trails. Four of our five pre-planned forest trails will now be accessible for both able and disabled visitors with the idea that active visitors can cycle side-by-side with users of the TGA Breeze – total inclusion for all. We do have another new scooter for hire and if these prove popular, then we plan to purchase more in the future, especially if we can find a commercial sponsor who can help with funding.”

The Carradale group intend to target and promote the new outdoor activity centre to individuals with a wide range of disabilities. The centre is backed by the Forestry Commission and is located near to three hotels in the village of Carradale, which will provide accommodation for larger groups from further afield looking to access the forest and coastline. A new website, informative leaflets and trail maps will be available soon, all detailing the capabilities of the TGA Breeze. Jim concludes: “These are indeed exciting times for us with the official opening now planned for Good Friday. We will be fully operational by then and are currently in contact with the Forth & Tay Disabled Ramblers association in regards to finalising our pre-planned routes for disabled visitors. On initial contact with this group, we asked whether they would recommend a certain type of mobility scooter that would be both highly reliable and suitable for use in the rural environment. They strongly suggested the TGA Breeze that reaffirmed my opinion following its success during the Top Gear extreme challenge. We are delighted to have now purchased one of these excellent machines and are all filled with great anticipation regarding its first outing when the centre opens on 29 March 2013.”

Picture caption: Local resident David Currie (left) and Jim Galbraith, Director of Carradale Network Ltd, test out new TGA Mobility scooters with off road capabilities, which will be available at the new accessible Carradale Outdoor Activity Centre, Kintyre, North West Scotland opening 29 March 2013.

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