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Paralympic champions open new changing facilities at Yorkshire Event Centre

Official opening of the Changing Places facility at the YEC

Published by Lizzy McEllan at 7:02am 30th March 2019.

Paralympic World Champion Hannah Cockroft MBE DL and European Champion Nathan Maguire open new changing facility for children and adults with disabilities at the Yorkshire Event Centre.

  • A brand new changing facility for children and adults with disabilities has been opened at the Yorkshire Event Centre
  • It's after Yorkshire dad, Reg Horner, wrote to showground bosses about the difficulty of changing his 14-year-old son, Liam, in public places
  • The facilities were officially opened by Paralympic World Champion Hannah Cockcroft MBE and European Champion Nathan Maguire

The facility will make the Showground more accessible during events being held at the Yorkshire Event Centre including the Great Yorkshire Show.

World champion Hannah, who’s from Halifax, said:

“It’s fantastic to see the Yorkshire Event Centre leading the way in accessibility and making everyone feel welcome at their events.

"Facilities such as these are few and far between and the lack of accessible changing places around the country makes it hard for disabled people and families of disabled people to have days out and feel included in society.

"I’m really happy that events like the Great Yorkshire Show will now be completely inclusive and can really be enjoyed as a family day out for everyone.”

The Changing Places facility in Hall 2 will be open during events.

It has more space and the right equipment, including a height adjustable adult-sized changing bench and a hoist, for visitors who can’t use standard accessible toilets.

This includes people with profound and multiple learning disabilities, motor neurone disease, multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, as well as older people.

Nigel Pulling, Chief Executive of the Yorkshire Agricultural Society, said:

“We have listened to our visitors and are delighted to now offer a Changing Places facility.

"This has been a significant investment for the Yorkshire Agricultural Society which we feel is important in ensuring we can make the Great Yorkshire Show and other events held at the Yorkshire Event Centre and on the Showground are accessible for everyone.”

Clare Lucas, Head of Policy and Campaigns at Muscular Dystrophy UK, which co-chairs the Changing Places Consortium, said:

“Thousands of people living in Yorkshire use Changing Places toilets, and we are delighted the Yorkshire Event Centre has recognised this need. Disabled people go to work, socialise and enjoy days out just like everyone else, but a lack of Changing Places toilets often leave them isolated and unable to leave their homes.

“We would encourage other venues to follow the example of the Yorkshire Event Centre, and won’t stop campaigning until there are enough Changing Places facilities nationwide.”

Reg Horner was also at the opening after lobbying for places to change for his 14-year-old son.

He said:

“The changing place will be of great benefit to all disabled people who previously have not been able to attend the showground as no such facility was available. It will be a first class plus point for a first-class event like the Great Yorkshire Show in enabling all levels of society to enjoy their days out.”

A mobile changing unit was operated for the first time at the Great Yorkshire Show last year thanks to project Place to Change.

The project was launched in the region by the North Yorkshire Chairman of the Special Olympics, Andrew Newton, whose daughter, Aniela, has severe cerebral palsy and needs to be changed during any day away from home.

Thirsk-based Andrew said the opening of the new permanent facility in the Yorkshire Event Centre was “fantastic” and will allow more visitors to enjoy the Great Yorkshire Show as well as other events at the Showground.

Andrew said:

“I would like to thank all those involved in this project who once the need was identified, acted quickly to ensure this facility was built. Families like mine will now be able to enjoy the Show without the worry of having to find a “quiet” place to change our daughter.

“Rural communities and farming are already extremely difficult for those with mobility issues and the general lack of access and facilities around the country mean that those with these challenges become even more isolated. The Showground is now removing one of these barriers and I am sure that many more will be able to enjoy events at this already highly accessible Showground.”
Andrew started the Place to Change project in May 2018 at which time there were no Places to Change at any attraction in North Yorkshire, with only Council-provided ones at a few locations. This meant many disabled people would be unable to visit or spend only a very little time anywhere before leaving. He has been campaigning for additional facilities across the region, winning support from local MPs.

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