EACH  year the Devon County Show welcomes well over a thousand visitors with accessibility issues through its gates and this number is increasing year on year. 

Recognising the importance of creating an inclusive experience for all, show manager, Lisa Moore has announced the introduction of several new initiatives for the 2024 Show.

These have come about as a result of a site audit carried out at last year’s show by Chloe Hammond, a wheelchair user Chloe Hammond and her assistance dog, Ocho. 

‘I am only disabled nurse in the UK who works clinically in my wheelchair with  Ocho,  my 3-year-old yellow Labrador who’sbest friend and mobility assistance dog,’ said Chloe

‘I graduated from the university of West London ten years ago with a letter of Recommendation from the Dean and went on to win the “recent graduate” award in 2022. This hasn’t stopped me facing discrimination and prejudice during my career, but I am a nurse and nursing is what I do. 

This year I have started to use my voice and try and initiate changes. I am trying to make accessibility better for not just me but other people with disabilities too. This could be things like Devon County show or could be careers in health and social care. 

‘Being disabled is hard work, and there are things people can and should do to make that easier. We shouldn’t have to fight for our disabled rights. Disabled people are people, with so much to offer. I hope to be seen, be heard and be someone who makes a difference. ‘

Some of the new initiatives recommended by Chloe, and which are to be implemented include a high dependency mobile disabled toilet unit equipped with a hoist, chairs placed outside all accessible toilet facilities, a ban on retractable dog leads and signing by a BSL interpreter in the Accessible Viewing Area which is located alongside the public grandstand next to the main arena, on at least one day of the show.

Other initiatives include disability awareness training for all Devon County Show staff plus dedicated accessibility stewards  and  call out to traders with raised stands to bring ramps in order to facilitate accessibility for wheelchair users and those with limited mobility - with a new award for the best accessible trade stand.

‘We have always prided ourselves on being an accessible show with several elements already in place to facilitate access for everyone, regardless of their ability,’  said show manager Lisa Moore.

‘As a constantly evolving show, we recognise that there’s always room for improvement.  It has been incredibly useful having Chloe working with us and giving us such a detailed insight into the Show from her perspective.  

‘She recognises that we can’t reinvent the wheel in year one, and many of her recommendation have been small steps but ones which, I’m convinced, will make a really big difference to Devon County Show goers living with a disability.’

As a thank you to both Chloe and Ocho the show was pleased to donate a cheque for £1,000 towards Ocho’s upkeep this year.