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History

Founder Jill Corso sitting in a camping chair eating cake at the end of a triathlon event
Jill Corso

Early Beginnings

Vision of Adventure began life under the name Spirit of Adventure. This was the title of a project at the Bendrigg Trust. Jill Corso, a long-serving outdoor instructor there, created it because she believed individual disabled adults should have opportunities for access to adventurous activities at all levels.

The Original Vision

She started it with a letter in 2010 to Trevor Clarke, then Principal of the Bendrigg Trust.

Dear Trevor,

This document is an outline proposal for a scheme that I would like you to consider. Its something I feel  strongly  about, I have always loved the idea of expeditioning and journeys. I am lucky enough to have been to some fantastic places and to have felt the huge achievement of the “prize” at the end of a journey that has involved effort, teamwork and usually some hardship and moments of wishing I was somewhere else! I would like to be able to offer that opportunity to disabled people.

What do I want to do?

To enable people with special needs to participate in adventurous outdoor pursuits at a higher level than ‘the introductory or taster session’.

VI abseiling down a caving shaft using a petzyl descenderTo enable them to learn skills and become as independent as possible in their chosen activity.

To enable them to participate in adventurous journeys and expeditions.

To give them a goal to strive towards, train for, raise funds for and plan over a period of several months. Culminating in the event and the huge feelings of achievement that come with something you have worked hard for.

Why?

When I was 19 years old I worked with a blind group in a mainstream outdoor centre.  We gave them a week of taster sessions, as most centres do. At the end of the week one of the participants said to me ‘I have loved this week but I am leaving saddened because you have showed me what I can’t do.  I would love to take the climbing further but it’s not really possible for a blind person’.

24 years later, while working at Bendrigg I took a group of youngsters with learning difficulties through Calf Holes (it felt like an epic adventure for the youngsters and visiting staff!). On the way back one of the youngsters told me what a fantastic time he had had and how proud he was of himself. The next thing he said was how much he loved caving (this had not been his first trip) and that he would never be able to do it again as he was due to leave school. I knew that he was right.

Through my many years of working with Bendrigg and other disability organisations I have always felt that there is a gap. There is very little provision for people with special needs to access adventurous outdoor pursuits at a level other than the introductory or taster session.

How do we start?

Ariel shot of 7 canoes rafted together next to some big flaked rocksIn order to test the water I envisage a small pilot project in 2011. This would involve 3 small expeditions in this country, nothing too ambitious!

  • A trekking type trip (e.g.  walk across the Lake District or the ascent of Ben Nevis)
  • A canoe/ kayak trip (e.g. the Caledonian Canal or Spey descent)
  • A caving project (e.g.  Gaping Ghyll)
  • A number of fundraising events

All of these expeditions would involve the participants in at least one training weekend in advance of the actual trip.

Future Years

My ideal would be to see (in 5 or 10years) the skills and expeditions section of Bendrigg flourishing to a level where we offer:

  • Adventurous expeditions in this country and abroad.
  • Skills training courses where people with special needs could learn to canoe, climb or cave.
  • Bespoke trips for groups.

We would be considered leaders in this field! ……………

Jill Corso 

Fortunately, Trevor Clarke was very supportive and Spirit of Adventure was created.

The Intervening Years

6 canoes and crews beached together at the edge of a riverThe first courses took place the following year. Courses were open to participants with all types of disability. In 2012 Steve Bateman, who is visually impaired, participated on a mixed-disability canoeing expedition down the River Wye. He wanted to do more and so returned the following year to paddle the River Spey. But this time he also brought with him four other visually impaired paddlers and five sighted guides.

From there, word spread within the visually impaired community and participation grew over the following years. By 2018 the project was focused almost solely on visually impaired participants.

In September 2018 Bendrigg announced they were unable to continue with the Spirit of Adventure work.

Believing the project too valuable to lose, Jill and her husband Dave, with the support of previous participants and volunteers, decided to form a new charity. It would concentrate solely on visually impaired adults. Its name Vision of Adventure was chosen by the participants on previous courses.

Vision of Adventure was registered by the charity commission in October 2018.

During the period under its earlier name much equipment had accumulated. We are grateful to the Bendrigg Trust for passing this on to Vision of Adventure.