New minibus drives forward accessible respite breaks

A state-of-the-art adapted minibus set to transform outings at national respite centre, Leuchie House took to the roads today.

Regular Leuchie guest Rachel Mylne, who has advanced Parkinson’s Disease, cut the ribbon at a special launch event, also marking World Parkinson’s Day.

The East Lothian charity has been able to commission the new bus, custom-built to the requirements of people with long term neurological conditions, thanks to the proceeds from a fundraising event organised for Leuchie by the Caledonian Events Committee. The Committee’s Marvellous Midsummer Ball, held at Leuchie House in June 2017, raised £135,000 which has funded the minibus and contributed to other Leuchie projects.

With an ultra-flat low floor, extra-wide side and rear entrances and a fold out ramp, the bus has been specially configured with space for four power wheelchairs and four fixed seats, to transport up to four Leuchie guests and four members of the charity’s care team. It also features an integrated PA system which will enable the Leuchie team to offer guests guided tours of the local area for the first time.

Outings are an essential part of the short respite breaks Leuchie provides for people living with multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s, stroke and many other long term conditions. For some of those who come to Leuchie, these trips are the only time they are able to get out and about.  Everyone staying at Leuchie is able to choose where they would like to go on outings, enabling them to go to places and take part in activities that make their break extra special. This varies enormously from days out at famous visitor attractions like the Royal Yacht Britannia or The Kelpies, to trips to the theatre, to having the chance to go out for a pub lunch or afternoon tea, through to flights in a microlight down the East Lothian coast!

Leuchie House CEO, Mairi O’Keefe explains: “Being able to go on outings while they are at Leuchie is one of the things our guests look forward to most.  Often our guests don’t have their own adapted transport and have little or no opportunity to leave the house. Getting out and about and enjoying new experiences can do so much to improve their wellbeing and reduce feelings of social isolation. At nine years old and lacking the comfort and features our guests need, our old bus had reached the end of the road. Thanks to the incredible support of the Caledonian Events Committee, it will now be a real joy to take our guests out in our brand new bus, and means we can offer them even more choice in where they can choose to go.”

Chair of the Caledonian Events Committee, Sarah Donaldson said: “We were thrilled to be able to raise funds to support Leuchie House through last year’s Marvellous Midsummer Ball. To now see that support translated into this fantastic new minibus and the pleasure it brings to Leuchie’s guests, is an incredible reward and we wish Leuchie many happy years of great days out in this special new vehicle.”