The Mary Kinross Charitable Trust Forms
John and Mary Kinross start the Mary Kinross Charitable Trust (MKCT) to support ‘whole projects’ and not just ‘write cheques’.
Bendrigg Lodge purchased
The MKCT were interested in the work being done by ‘Six Circle Camps’ in Scotland who were taking groups of trainees from ‘borstal’ to Iona, to camp with and assist groups of people with disabilities. With the intention of progressing these ideas; the MKCT purchased Bendrigg Lodge, an old hunting lodge in rural Cumbria, in 1976.
The Voluntary Services Unit (VSU) of the Home Office made a commitment to fund the running costs for three years while the MKCT was to provide the capital to purchase and adapt the building. John Kinross thought that, after three years, the fees paid by visiting groups using Bendrigg Lodge would cover the running costs. However, in order to run courses for visiting groups of disabled and disadvantaged people, a fee that covered all the costs would be prohibitive. It was clear that there would always be an operating deficit and fundraising would be crucial to a successful and on-going operation.
First groups visit
Much work was required to turn the Lodge into a suitable place for residential courses and initially there was not even a mains water supply. The building was ready to take residential courses in the summer of 1977, with beds for 60 people, and the ‘Northern Association for Community Care’ (NACC) was formed.
First Lodge Extension
To improve accommodation facilities and cater for people with physical disabilities better, a ground floor extension was completed in 1982. Thanks to the fore-thought of Trustees the foundations were made strong enough and the roof left flat to allow for a second storey to be added in time if required.
The Oakwood Annexe was completed in 1985 and allowed groups to benefit from a completely self-contained accommodation unit with it’s own toilets and showers, kitchen, lounge and dining area.
Resource Centre and Climbing Wall
The building of a new resource centre to store specialist equipment in conjunction with an accessible outdoor climbing wall provided Bendrigg with fantastic new activity facilities.
Charity renamed Bendrigg Trust
After nine years the VSU funding was phased out and in 1988, the NACC changed its name to the Bendrigg Trust.
Inaugral 10k Race
The inaugral Bendrigg 10K road race attracted 122 entries in it’s first year and was won by Sunderland Harrier, John Wheeler in 32 minutes and 50 seconds. The 10K race is still an annual feature of Bendrigg’s calendar and includes ‘Heartbreak Hill’ – the final slog up a steep incline just before the finish.
The Bendrigg Support Trust
In 1990 the MKCT started an endowment fund to help meet the annual operating deficit. This is a separate registered charity called the Bendrigg Support Trust. The MKCT continues to take a detailed interest in the work of the Bendrigg Trust with John and Mary’s daughter often visiting Bendrigg.
Dining Room Extension
The dining room was extended in the early 1990’s to provide more access and room for disabled users.
Second Lodge Extension
The second major Lodge extension took place over four years in a number of phases and included external works to paths, ramps and balconies as well as internal refurbishment to increase the size of bedrooms. In 1998 the second floor was added ontop of the original extension to provide additional accessible bedrooms and the installation of a lift. In 2000 the new entrance was completed, finishing 4 years of major works.
Fell End Bunkhouse aquired
To continue increasing access to the outdoors for people with disabilities, Bendrigg bought Fell End Bunkhouse in Ravenstonedale in 2000. As an old converted schoolhouse, Fell End allows families, groups and individuals to stay in the beautiful Yorkshire Dales and plan their own adventures. This was improved in 2006 with the addition of the next door ‘Greenslack’ building which was leased and converted to provide a wheelchair accessible shower room and bedroom.
Loft space becomes new Volunteer Accommodation
Bendrigg cannot function without the dedicated support of our volunteers and in 2001 we converted extensive loft space to create accommodation for volunteers. With 4 bedrooms, a bathroom, kitchenette and lounge our volunteer block can cater for up to 6 people at a time.
Kinross Building built
The Kinross Building opened in 2007 as is now used on a daily basis by all staff and clients to Bendrigg. With modern meeting facilities, a sensory room, sports hall, state-of-the-art climbing wall and indoor cave; the Kinross Building allows groups the versatility to continue trying new activities even in bad weather.
Bendrigg’s newest capital project, Acorn House, opened in May 2017. This new 24-bed, accessible accommodation replaced our Oakwood Annexe and is a flexible, state-of-the-art facility. Whilst still providing groups with accommodation separate from the main lodge, Acorn House consists of a lounge, kitchen and dining area as well as a games room with hoisting and en-suite facilities throughout.
In 2020 the world as we once knew it came to a halt during the Covid-19 pandemic. With worldwide lockdowns and shielding for the most vulnerable lasting for months on end, the impact of the pandemic was enormous. Research and studies showed that although the impact was huge for everyone, disabled people and the most vulnerable were affected disproportionately.
Bendrigg adapted to offer safe space to hundreds of disabled people and their families throughout the pandemic and offered day services to give people somewhere safe to access the great outdoors and activities to bring light relief during a tremendously difficult time.
You can read more about the impact of the pandemic on Bendrigg and how we adapted to meet the need of our beneficiaries here.
A New Normal
As vaccinations were rolled out across the UK and restrictions were lifted, Bendrigg resumed its residential services with additional health and safety measures in place to protect our visitors and staff, and minimise the chance of a coronavirus breakout at the centre.