Our vision for West Horsley Place is to share it with everyone, and that includes looking at what makes access difficult. As a historic house and estate, there are obvious constraints, but we are keen to do everything we can.

We’re setting up an Access Panel to help look at the difficulties and what we can improve, and we’re pleased to announce we’ve appointed the Chair, Melissa Speed.

Melissa has several years’ experience volunteering for heritage charities, and professional experience as a librarian and ESOL teacher. She is an enthusiast for history and likes to travel the county visiting historic sites, museums and galleries. She now runs a website dedicated to reviewing the accessibility of heritage sites.

“I have always loved visiting historic sites and arts and heritage places, but as my condition had increasing impact on my mobility, I found I was facing more and more access challenges when visiting them.” explained Melissa.

"Being able to access heritage and culture is so important, it can greatly improve mental and physical health. For example, after cancer treatment ended, the first thing I did was visit a castle, I couldn’t wait to be somewhere that would stimulate my mind and lift my spirits. But finding yourself unable to access much when you arrive can be disheartening.”

“As a disabled person, I’m glad to see the Trust taking active steps towards improving access for all, and I’m proud to be involved in the new Access Panel and the wider team.”

The West Horsley Place Trust is now looking to recruit people with a particular interest in this area to join the panel. Whether facing barriers to their own access needs or to those of their companion, Access Panel members will use their experience to contribute to the discussion on barriers they face when visiting West Horsley Place, and possible improvements to accessibility for the future.

“I’m delighted to be creating this Access Panel,” says Jo Ellison, Community Engagement and Project Coordinator. “The house is a beautiful,welcoming space and we want as many people as possible to experience it. Our Access Panel will be an important part of achieving this."      

Find out more about the panel here:

Volunteer role: Access Panel member

Made possible with National Lottery Heritage Fund logo