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Community Rail Group’s new initiative to improve rail journeys and tourism for people living with dementia

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The Leeds-Morecambe Community Rail Partnership (LMCRP) recently made an innovative bid to Northern’s (Arriva Rail North’s) Seed Corn Fund and has been successful in obtaining funds to develop the Bentham Line as a ‘centre of excellence’ in the understanding of how community rail can help those people living with dementia, their carers and their supporters to have a far better experience of rail travel as a means for tourism.

Catherine Huddleston, Partnership Officer for the Bentham Line, who is very much looking forward to coordinating the project, said:  “This major project gives, the LMCRP,  Northern,  Alzheimer’s Research UK and other interested parties along and beyond our route the opportunity to collectively develop an innovative rail travel and destination toolkit for groups to travel along the Bentham Line, with an emphasis on accommodating individuals with additional needs. Group members will travel along the route and on to destinations from it which include the Yorkshire Dales National Park and the Forest of Bowland AONB.  The eventual aim will be to transfer the initiative to other lines and train operating companies across the North and around the UK.”

The CRP Chairman, Gerald Townson, added,  “the employees of Northern, the local train operator, representatives from local tourism and rail groups and the many volunteers, all of whom support the activities on the Bentham Line, would receive training in the kind of support this group of passengers needs.  In a trial last year we arranged travel to the coast for a group, which proved incredibly powerful and helped those travelling to reconnect with their fond memories of earlier holidays, visits and rail journeys.”

Pete Myers, Client and Stakeholder Manager for Northern commented:  “Northern are delighted to fully support this exciting initiative; the Bentham Line travels through some of our nation’s most beautiful scenery to the seaside resort of Morecambe which is experiencing something of a renascence currently.  If we can use these inbuilt advantages to benefit those living with dementia then that will really be something to celebrate.”

Matt Clarke, Regional Fundraising Officer at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said:

“We’re really encouraged at Alzheimer’s Research UK to see this initiative to improve the lives of people with dementia. It can sometimes be difficult for people with dementia to get out and about, so it’s really promising to see a project trying to help those affected. There are around 850,000 people living with dementia in the UK, so it’s important we do everything we can to improve understanding of the condition and take away the stigma.”

Rod Tickner, a founder member of  ‘Dementia Friendly Keighley’ and also a Director of the LMCRP, said that,  “From the work we are doing with local people living with dementia in the Keighley area we know that making routine tasks such as rail travel less stressful will be very helpful for them and their carers.  It is well known that many local people still think of Morecambe and the Dales as the holiday destinations of their earlier years. On behalf of our local group in Keighley, I strongly support this proposal and look forward to seeing the scheme get underway and welcome the opportunity for groups providing support for those living with dementia to be involved in this scheme.  We are pleased that the Alzheimer’s Society are also working alongside us.”

Any group who group which would like further information or would like to be involved with this initiative should contact Catherine Huddleston, Community Rail Partnership Officer at Bentham Station Building, Station Road, Bentham Lancaster LA2 7LF, email: the.bentham.line@gmail.com or telephone: 07471 941038 / 015242 98940.

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Andrew Mann
After 34 years working in numerous operational and communications disciplines for three FTSE companies (Yorkshire Electricity; Meggitt and BAE Systems), at over a dozen locations, on 24 November 2016, I became the inaugural editor of Business Lancashire. Business Lancashire is a good news, Lancashire focused, business website and daily newsletter. It is a partnership between The Samuel James Group and the North and Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce. Over the years, I have written hundreds of press releases, features for trade magazines, copy for websites and brochures, edited in-house magazines and newsletters, as well as presenting a radio programme on Chorley FM. This experience has given me the ideal background for editing Business Lancashire.