BOSSES at the Royal Botanic Garden are seeking donations from the public to help keep their attractions accessible to elderly and disabled people.
The Access for All Appeal is hoping to raise a total of £30,000 to improve accessibility across the gardens in Edinburgh, Dawyck in the Scottish Borders, Benmore in Argyll and Logan in Dumfries and Galloway, which have roughly 800,000 visitors every year.
In the Capital the funds will be used to replace mobility scooters designed to help the infirm enjoy the full scope of the garden, which includes the world-famous Rock Garden, peat and woodland gardens, glasshouses and specialist collections such as the Chinese Hillside.
James Salomons, development officer said: “Access for All aims to significantly increase the accessibility of all four sites by improving surfaces and providing useful features. Contributions to the appeal will go directly towards tangible improvements, allowing more people to access our living collections with greater ease.” Mobility scooters were only introduced by Botanics bosses in Edinburgh in recent years, after a rising number of requests for assisted access from visitors.
Development manager Caroline McKay said: “We need funding to meet growing demand and replace our current models within the next year, due to the wear and tear they are experiencing from high usage. They are very popular with our older and less able audience and prior to their purchase we had daily requests for them so individuals could experience the Botanic Garden at first hand.
“We also hope to fund a new charging and storage facility on the east side of the garden as the scooters are currently only stored on the west side, in the John Hope Gateway.”
Nearly 1800 people accessed the gardens using a mobility scooter in 2013 alone. In August, when thousands of tourists flock to the Capital to enjoy the Edinburgh Festival, the Botanics receives an average of 13 requests per day for access to the scooters.
Donations from Botanics members across the country have already raised more than £20,000, with officials hoping other members of the public will now help them to reach their target.
The funding raised will also go towards surfacing paths, installing hand rails, and upgrading visitor information materials such as wheelchair route maps.
For more information, or to donate, visit www.rbge.org.uk