New holiday haven for people with disabilities is latest success in road to fulfilling Whitburn mum's vision

Holiday breaks for people with disabilities have been announced – by a company which has a courageous award-winning boss at the helm.

And the entrepreneur behind the local firm has described her dream of an even bigger boost.

Tara Johnson, from Whitburn, who has cerebral palsy, wants to set up a holiday and leisure complex and she would love it to be local – as long as the right site can be found.

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It would be filled with pods and each of them would have everything that a person with a disability needs for an ideal break.

Tara Johnson who is helping people with disabilities in so many ways.

Talks have been held with 3,000 families to ask them what they would like to see in a leisure complex and to show her sheer commitment to the project, Tara trained for five months so she could take on a charity challenge.

Then, for the first time in 20 years, she managed to stand.

Tara, 40, admitted: “It was a real mix of emotions. My two young children hadn’t seen it and my family had not seen it for a long time.”

Tara used a cardboard cutout of Take That star Gary Barlow, and inspiring words from her children, to drive her on during the challenge in which she stood for 24 hours in 2021.

Tara Johnson with her daughter Molly, shortly after completing her stand challenge. Photo: M Photography

She raised £40,000 towards the dream of the eventual holiday and leisure complex which will be called the ‘Butterfly of the North’.

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But Tara has already lined up that first fantastic boost for disabled people by teaming up with one of Britain’s leading family holiday companies Haven. Between Haven and Tara’s business Tailored Leisure Company, they have launched their first accessible short break service for families.

People can enjoy a relaxing break in a fully accessible caravan at Berwick Holiday Park.

Tara with the Entrepreneur of the Year trophy at the Best of South Tyneside Awards.
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Tara set up the company due to her own experiences of living with cerebral palsy.

She said: “Many ‘accessible’ holiday homes only cater for a narrow range of physical disabilities, and this means that people with complex or multiple needs can’t enjoy a proper break with their families.

"We have worked closely with Haven in the specification of the caravan to eliminate the many barriers to holidays that include a lack of specialist equipment, lack of support for carers, only partially accessible facilities and being excluded from activities (like pools).”

Haven owns and operates 41 award-winning family holiday parks throughout England, Scotland and Wales.

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Tara was all smiles after being announced as the winner of the Entrepreneur of the Year category at the Best of South Tyneside Awards.

Tara added: “Our aim is to offer the most accessible escape ever, providing customers with a luxury worry-free break, where families can relax and have fun. “The site at Berwick is a perfect coastal get away and is located near some of the region’s most breathtaking scenery and experiences. This is an amazing start to our exciting plans for accessible short breaks across the region, we really can’t wait for families to share their experiences with us.”

The company was also a partner in the Get Out, Get Active (GOGA) activities programme.

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