Harold McMillan’s intention in 1951 was that the National Parks would be “for all people for all time.” However, John realised this was not quite true; a lack of accessible facilities restricted people with disabilities from truly enjoying our beautiful countryside and benefiting from outdoor activity.
John Fryer-Spedding, together with Elinor, Viscountess Rochdale and a group of other likeminded people, formed a Trust. The Fryer-Spedding family donated two farmsteads, Old Windebrowe and Little Crosthwaite, to the Trust and in 1978 the Little Crosthwaite Adventure Centre was formally opened in Keswick (now called Lake District Calvert Trust).
In 1984 a second centre, Calvert Trust Kielder, was opened in Northumberland. Now with two centres in the North of England, there was still scope for development so that people from the South of England didn’t have to travel such a distance to enjoy accessible activities – and Calvert Trust Exmoor was born.
After extensive renovation, the centre opened in 1996, offering people in the Southwest with disabilities, and their friends and families, the chance to achieve their potential through the challenge of outdoor adventure – all on one site. The centre is built around a Victorian farmstead located on the edge of Wistlandpound Reservoir.
Calvert Trust Exmoor now welcomes over 3,500 residential guests and over 5,000 day visitors a year, has its own riding school and indoor climbing wall, and caters for groups, families and individuals. Exmoor continues to expand and increase its facilities, and in 2012 HRH Princess Alexandra opened a new building complex, known as the Acland Room, which offers our visitors a quiet space with a fantastic view across Wistlandpound reservoir to the moors beyond.
Where did the name come from?
The land in the Lake District that John Fryer-Spedding eventually gave to the Trust had once been owned by the Calvert Family. Raisley Calvert, one of the sons, grew up with William Wordsworth (the famous poet and writer) and their childhood friendship continued into adulthood.
Sadly, by the age of 21, Raisley had developed tuberculosis and was dying. He had always encouraged Wordsworth in his writing and wanted his friend to fulfil his potential, so a legacy was arranged to allow Wordsworth to continue with his poetry full time. A cottage was also given to Wordsworth and his sister – the very same cottage that, many years later, John Fryer-Spedding passed on to the Trust to help others fulfil their potential.
As we all know, Wordsworth went on to fulfil his potential and leave his own literary legacy – he even wrote a poem dedicated to his friend Raisley Calvert.
With such a story of encouragement, potential and support, it seemed only fitting that Raisley’s name be taken to represent The Calvert Trust and the shared values that remain at the heart of what we do today.