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Posted by Alex Vernon on

New van, new plans – a day with Leonard Cheshire Disability

Last month I spent a lovely day’s story-gathering with residents and staff from Hill House, a Leonard Cheshire Disability home near Crewe.

Until recently, Hill House had transport problems. It had just two small vans, both vital for getting everyone out and about on day-trips to shopping centres, stately homes and the seaside. But if medical appointments came up, they had to take priority. With no vans available, the painstakingly-planned day-trips would be cancelled at the last minute. “That used to upset us, as we felt we were letting the residents down,” said Lynn, who coordinates the day-trips.

Not any more! Hill House recently got funding for a new vehicle – a spacious, specially adapted Mercedes van. Leonard Cheshire Disability’s fundraising team asked me to help them show the enormous difference this van has been making to everyone at Hill House.

Here’s Hill House and its much-loved new van. “Now that we’ve got the van, our daytrips are guaranteed,” Lynn told me. “Communal living is tough. People don’t have much personal space. But they’re so different when they’re out on day-trips - they’re free to be themselves.”
Here’s Hill House and its much-loved new van. “Now that we’ve got the van, our day-trips are guaranteed,” Lynn told me. “Communal living is tough. People don’t have much personal space. But they’re so different when they’re out on daytrips – they’re free to be themselves.”
This is Bev. She was just 30 – a busy mum with two young children - when she had a severe stroke. She has lived at Hill House for 19 years.
This is Bev. She was just 30 – a busy mum with two young children – when she had a severe stroke. She has lived at Hill House for 19 years.
I joined Bev and other Hill House residents and staff on a trip to a local garden centre. Here’s Bev getting herself into the Mercedes via the lift at the back.
I joined Bev and other Hill House residents and staff on a trip to a local garden centre. Here’s Bev getting herself into the Mercedes via the lift at the back.
Lynn’s in the driving seat. “It’s a big responsibility, driving all these people,” she says. “Their lives depend on me. Knowing that we have a reliable vehicle - that everyone is safe and comfortable in the back - is a real weight off my mind.”
Lynn’s in the driving seat. “It’s a big responsibility, driving all these people,” she says. “Their lives depend on me. Knowing that we have a reliable vehicle – that everyone is safe and comfortable in the back – is a real weight off my mind.”
Unfortunately we’d chosen a pretty grey day for our trip out…
Unfortunately we’d chosen a pretty grey day for our trip out…
Fortunately there was lots on offer under cover!
Fortunately there was lots on offer under cover!
Bev and her support worker Sue spent most of the day laughing…
Bev and her support worker Sue spent most of the day laughing…
…while Marianne enjoyed a civilised glass of rose with her lunch, accompanied by her support worker Annette. A former social worker, Marianne has multiple sclerosis.
…while Marianne enjoyed a civilised glass of rose with her lunch, accompanied by her support worker Annette. A former social worker, Marianne has multiple sclerosis.
“It’s really nice getting up close and personal with the flowers,” said Marianne.
“It’s really nice getting up close and personal with the flowers,” said Marianne.
Then it’s back in the van for the journey back to Hill House. “The new van gives us exceptional opportunities to go out as a family,” said Lynn. “We enjoy being out together - it’s the more, the merrier. It’s just a lot more fun for everyone.”
Then it’s back in the van for the journey back to Hill House. “The new van gives us exceptional opportunities to go out as a family,” said Lynn. “We enjoy being out together – it’s the more, the merrier. It’s just a lot more fun for everyone.”
Thanks so much to everyone at Hill House for making me feel so welcome. Here's to more delightful day-tripping in the new van!
Thanks so much to everyone at Hill House for making me feel so welcome. Here’s to more delightful day-tripping in the new van!

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