Those who attend Tavistock Memory Cafe were treated to a special day out last Thursday (September 7) and taken on trishaw tours around the Arboretum at Burrator Reservoir. 

A total of twenty eight people — those living with dementia and their carers — were taken on half-hour trips around the Arboretum throughout the day, accompanied by Dartmoor rangers who informed them of the site’s history and ecology, and then all enjoyed refreshments at the Discovery Centre. 

The day was organised as a collaboration between the Memory Cafe, charity Cycling Without Age, Dartmoor National Park, the South West Lakes Trust and representatives from the University of Exeter who run the national Enliven Project, which seeks to make outdoor places throughout the country easier to access for those with dementia and cognitive impairments.

Outreach and engagement officer for Dartmoor National Park Andy Bailey, who got the ball rolling by acquiring funding through the Enliven Project, explained how he approached the Memory Cafe with a range of different initial ideas that could be enacted. He said: “The national park is always looking to connect people with the wider outdoors and develop any such opportunities to explore Dartmoor that they may not otherwise have. I spent time at the sessions the Memory Cafe has put on since Christmas last year, learning more about the vital work they do to help those living wih dementia and seeing how Cycling Without Age voluteers often take them out on the trishaw around Tavistock. 

“We worked on a few ideas until we came up with this. It doesn’t cost a lot and is perfectly sustainable. We’ve come away today really excited.”

Andy and community engagement ranger Savannah Brownlow were on hand to offer more information, providing fact files and activity sheets on wildlife and the national park.

The paths at the Arboretum underwent upgrades at the beginning of this year, thus enhancing accessibility for all and making Thursday’s event possible. 

Heather Rayne, coordinator of the Memory Cafe, said: “It’s just been brilliant; everyone in the trishaws is so pleased to be out in the fresh air seeing nature when often they may not be, whether that be due to mobility issues or carers not having vehicles. The feedback we’ve received has been so positive; we’d most definitely like to do this again if and when we can, most likely in the spring time.”

See p.15 of the latest edition of the Tavistock Times Gazette for a picture spread of the day.