Challenging Disability Through Outdoor Adventure

BMC Disability Symposium Success

On the 16th and 17th November, the Lake District Calvert Trust hosted the first ever British Mountaineering Council Disability Symposium.  This event was designed to help outdoor professionals who want to introduce people with disabilities to climbing, hill-walking and mountaineering.  There were twenty workshops for the sixty delegates to choose from.


wheelchair abseiling on the ab-slab at the Lake District Calvert Trust


Everyone was treated to very different talks by two of Britain’s leading climbing adventurers, Jamie Andrew and Andy Kirkpatrick. Throughout both talks we were constantly reminded that having a disability need not stop people from having a life of adventure and challenge in the mountains.


Jamie's story of the epic adventure in which his best friend died and he lost his hands and feet to frostbite, and his subsequent experiences and achievements kept the audience riveted.  As Jamie says, he hopes that he may ‘inspire others to tackle the obstacles they face in life and to achieve their full potential’. 


Andy Kirkpatrick then gave a great talk of his experiences climbing the 900m high rock walls of America’s Yosemite Valley with his partner Karen Darke, the Paralympic hand-cycling Silver medallist, his friend Steve Bates who has 10% vision and Major Phil Packer, who was injured in Iraq and has a spinal cord injury.


Feedback from the event was really positive, with people reporting not only newfound knowledge about specialist skills and techniques, but also about increased confidence and a realisation of what they can do to improve inclusion and accessibility:


"The speakers, workshops, facilities, food and all staff were all at a standard that make me think it is a shame to wait two years until the next one and I would sign up today with no knowledge of cost based on my experience this weekend... Since coming back I have been surrounded by people who have a strong "can't do” attitude. I just want to shake them as they are poles apart from your team.’"


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