When most of us are faced with personal obstacles, our instinct is to overcome them as best we can and then just get on with our lives. But when Gay Pepper from Burton-on-the-Wolds faced an obstacle affecting her own family, she went on to create something remarkable for all families facing similar challenges.
Many years ago, when taking her daughter, who suffers from muscular dystrophy, on holiday, and finding the accommodation advertised as disabledfriendly anything but, she decided to do something about it. Within a few years, Gay and her husband John had created two fully accessible holiday homes to let in Wales.
Knowing that there was nothing similar nearer home, Gay and John then planned to build a holiday home on their 600acre farm. Sadly, John passed away from cancer before the project could get off the ground, but Gay was determined to pursue their dream. Stepping back from the day-to-day running of the farm, Gay sold the livestock and the farm machinery, leased some of the land to fellow farmers, and started to design and organise the build herself.
There were the inevitable problems with planners and contractors along the way, but Gay has built something truly remarkable in the heart of Leicestershire. And there is clearly a demand for this kind of facility. Peppers Barn has received guests from as far afield as London and Wales, and both LOROS and Rainbows regularly direct patients and their families in its direction.
“After all the problems finding holiday accommodation suitable for my daughter, even down to not even being able to get her wheelchair through doors, I wanted to create somewhere families could stay with their loved ones,” says Gay. “I just wanted to help people like me with disabled family.”
Peppers Barn has several bedrooms on two floors, and a wide range of facilities to cater for all levels of disability. The ground floor is designed to allow free movement for wheelchairs, and the far end has been designed as a combined bathroom/bedroom with a tracked hoist, which allows the guest to be lifted safely from bed into the bath.
Aware that disabled people are more susceptible to the cold, Gay has worked hard to ensure that the building is highly insulated and energy efficient. Solar panels provide the electricity, and a ground-source heat pump provides the heating and hot water.
“Any surplus electricity we generate is fed back into the national grid,” says Gay, “so the building is relatively cheap to run. Any profit we make at the end of the year is ploughed back into buying more equipment.”
“It makes me so happy to see the joy people get from being here,” says Gay.
The home sleeps between 7 and 14 people, and breaks start at just £120 per night for two people, with a minimum stay of two nights.
You can find more information on the website: www.peppersbarn.co.uk