Posted: Monday 21st March 2016 by Emyr MWT

Lift Off..

During the Easter weekend in April 2014, the 360 Observatory opened for the first time to great excitement and fanfare.

Everybody, including wheelchair users, could get to it along 600m of extra-wide boardwalk. It was even designed to be 10 feet off the wetland floor so that wheelchair users could have an elevated viewing position. We tried everything we could at the time to get all our visitors to the top level, but we couldn't with the construction time-frames we had, never mind any budget constraints. After all, how do you get electricity almost half a mile into a reedbed-swampy habitat, and enough of it, to power a lift?

We thought we had done well, but 'well' wasn't good enough. Soon we had complaints from wheelchair users and people of restricted mobility that they too wanted to share in the excitement of going to the top floor and enjoying some of the best views of ospreys and wildlife you could get. And why shouldn't they?

Less than two years on, thanks to a £14,500 grant from Natural Resources Wales and another £14,500 in donations from our generous followers, notwithstanding a huge amount of will-power and help from volunteers too, we've fixed it.

After all, what good is an osprey project where only the 90% of the most able-bodied people in society can get to the best bit?

Here are 10 facts about the new osprey lift:


1. One in 50 people are dependent on a wheelchair in the UK (2%). Another 8% have restricted mobility and cannot walk further than 500m.

2. Our lift is made by INVALIFTS - a premier lift company from Sweden

3. Our model is the top-of-the-range, 'Rolls Royce' model - the MC 2000 Platform lift

4. The lift can take six people or 500Kg (half a ton!)

5. The lift travels approximately seven meters and takes just over 30 seconds to get to the top

6. If you visit and need to use the lift, a volunteer will be on hand to help operate the lift for you


 March 20th 2016: our volunteers get training on how to aid our visitors that use the 360 Observatory lift


7. The lift uses a 16 Amp supply and needs around 3Kw of power to run (around the same as boiling a kettle)

8. The lift can take sizes up to 1400mm x 1100mm (so small mobility scooters as well)

9. For our visitors that find the 600m walk to the 360 Observatory too much, or the stairs, we have a free wheelchair lease; one at the visitor centre and one in the 360 Observatory

10. There is no need to let us know if you need a wheelchair before you visit; we're all ready for you!

Many thanks to all our volunteers that helped construct our new platform lift, and of course to everybody that donated so generously, including Natural Resources Wales.

In an age where many wildlife reserves do not accommodate disabled people and an era where politicians are hellbent on making their lives poorer, Montgomeryshire Wildlife Trust are proud to buck that trend. It took us nearly two years, but we got there.

Here's the video:

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