Stover Country Park going for gold!

Posted on: 3 November 2016

One of Devon County Council’s most popular visitor destinations is a finalist in this year’s Devon Tourism Awards.

Stover Country Park and Nature Reserve near Newton Abbot is up for a bronze, silver or gold in the Access & Inclusivity Award category.

The awards recognise businesses, facilities, parks or gardens who demonstrate exceptional customer service. To qualify entrants must demonstrate the highest standards in ensuring an outstanding experience for visitors, and for this award, particularly those with impairments or additional access needs such as those with pushchairs and wheelchair or poor mobility.

The park, which is designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), is the only outdoor finalist in this year’s Access & Inclusivity Award shortlist.

cllr-roger-croadCouncillor Roger Croad, Devon County Council’s Cabinet Member responsible for Community and Environmental services, said:

“We are fortunate to have a park as beautiful as Stover in our county, and the team of rangers and volunteers work hard to ensure that it is accessible for all to enjoy.

“In fact, last year’s visitor survey showed that 28% of visitors identified themselves as having a disability, which shows how popular the park is for those with additional access needs.

“With its flat circular routes it makes a superb facility for people of all ages and abilities, offering easy access to people with limited mobility and the elderly and infirm as well as young families with pushchairs.

“Our team of rangers have made accessibility and inclusivity a priority and over the years and have been working to gradually improve and enhance the facilities on offer. For example, rangers and volunteers recently installed a new bridge along the Ted Hughes Poetry Trail which is wide enough now take the Stover Tramper mobility scooter.

“It’s no surprise that Stover is one of Devon’s most popular wildlife attractions, enjoying excellent support from both the local community and visitors from further afield.

“I am pleased to see the efforts of everyone involved in its careful management have been recognised with this award nomination. I wish them good luck for the ceremony next week.”

Stover Country Park and Nature Reserve attracts more than 300,000 visitors a year and over 3,000 school children visit the wildlife interpretation centre and educational classroom.

A 90 metre ‘aerial walkway’, provides visitors including wheelchair users with a woodland canopy experience unique in the South West.

It also operates a very successful all terrain Tramper mobility vehicle as part of the Countryside Mobility South West Scheme and two manual wheelchairs are available free of charge

A team of Rangers work with dozens of volunteers to look after 114 acres of woodland, heathland, grassland, lake and marshland and have worked continuously to improve access for all.

Rangers work inclusively all year round with volunteers, special needs groups, educational visits, forest school activities and other community groups.

stover-school-visitA Forest School facility is available to those with learning difficulties and provides an alternative to the classroom.  Schools and groups have access to all educational activities, which are suitable or adapted for all abilities and ages, free of charge.

Visitors can also explore the ‘Ted Hughes Poetry Trail’ and children’s poetry and sculpture trail, an outdoor classroom and bird hide.

The Park offers links to the ‘Templer Way’ long distance walking route and the new ‘Stover Trail’ multi use walking/cycling route.

Within the park there are disabled access picnic tables, information boards which are positioned for easy reading by wheelchair users, audio pens and a brail book for visitors following the poetry trails. The Visitor Centre has audio equipment as part of the interpretative displays.

Image result for devon tourism awards 2016The winners of the Devon Tourism Awards will be announced at the Awards Ceremony on 10 November in the Great Hall of Exeter University, where the event will be hosted by Judi Spiers.

Successful businesses will also be fast tracked into the South West Tourism Excellence Awards in February 2017, with nominees in matching categories invited to represent Devon in to the National VisitEngland Awards later in 2017.

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