The Chalet - Holidays for all

The Chalet - Holidays for all

Funding: 
Tyne Esk LEADER - £60,650
Scottish Rural Development Programme priority: 
Enhancing the rural economy
 

Location

West Meikle Pinkerton Farm,
Dunbar
East Lothian
EH42 1RX
        
Contact details: 
Project Manager: James & Kay Gilchrist Contact details: thechaletdunbar@yahoo.com

What are the aims of your project?

The aim of the project was to provide accessible holiday accommodation which was suitable and safe for guests to visit whilst meeting their individual needs. We hope to welcome guests not only with physical disabilities but with other support needs such as Autism, acquired brain injuries or visual impairment. Having worked as a teacher with pupils who had severe to complex needs, I was aware of the difficulties that many families faced when finding somewhere suitable and safe for a holiday. We wanted to change this and welcome ‘everyone’ to enjoy our farm and the beautiful surrounding countryside whilst having their support needs met.

How did your project achieve these aims?

By researching our ‘target’ guests we could determine what facilities we felt were necessary to provide. We visited ‘The Rings’ to see what other businesses were providing in a similar market. It gave us lots of ideas which we discussed with the designers at Island Leisure Lodges and we came up with our finished product.We feel confident that our guests can enjoy a relaxing holiday where their specific needs are met.

Who’s involved?

The project has been managed by myself and my husband James, but this has been backed up with support from our families, without which it wouldn’t have been possible. We also have to thank Steve Millar and his team from Island Leisure Lodges for building our amazing chalet to a very high standard and delivering it within the timescales. 

How was the project funded?

The project was funded partially through our farm and partially through the grant that LEADER provided us. If we hadn’t got the grant then were could not have built our chalet to the standard that we have done. Looking back, we would have been very disappointed to have only been able to build a standard chalet and not been able to provide that facilities that we have done.

Where did you go for help and advice?

We sought advice from Visit Scotland and the owner of ‘The Rings’ in Fife to gain an insight of what we should do to get enough information to support our application for the grant. We were supported by Neil and Dawne throughout the whole process from filling in the forms to submitting the claims. We could not have done this without them.

What has been your greatest achievement so far?

Our biggest achievement so far has been seeing the project go live, all in line with schedule, and starting to take bookings. We have had a couple of bookings now and we are delighted at achieving two five star reviews on Euan’s Guide. The best part has been the guests reaction when they have entered the chalet and seen all we have to offer them.  Getting positive feedback and reviews has made all the hard work worth it and we are proud to be able to support families to find the right holiday accommodation for them  which can be often be difficult as their individual needs are not always catered for.  We have provided a comfortable and homely holiday home which is non-clinical and we are very proud of that. 

And the biggest challenge?

The biggest challenge we faced was with a lag in payment – we had to go to our bank manager and organise an extension on our overdraft to accommodate this.  It all worked out but it was a testing time. We would advise all other applicants to be very thorough with their cash flow projections before the start of the project and to make sure they have a safety net in case of this kind of eventuality.

Any tips for those setting up a similar project?

The lesson on making sure you have a safety net of cash for any eventualities in payments an important one and something we’d definitely advise anyone considering a retrospective funding stream to do. Aside from this we would not have changed anything.

What’s next for your project?

To build on our reputation and continue to provide a high quality experience for our guests. We also hope to improve some areas of the farm to allow guests more freedom to explore when they are here.