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The Independent Online
George and Dorothy Vidler climbing Church Crag, in Martindale, looking north towards Ullswater, in the Lake District, Cumbria, while on their second stay last August at the Bendrigg Trust. This was the first time the Vidlers had ever climbed a mountain. The trust, which was established in 1978, provides specialised residential activity courses at its two houses - Bendrigg Lodge and its annexe, Oakwood, near Kendal - for disabled and disadvantaged people of all ages. Mr Vidler, who has had polio, is in the wheelchair on top of the crag, and his wife, who has a balance problem and partial hearing, is on the crag side. During their first visit to Bendrigg, the Vidlers practised climbing techniques - and by the time of their next visit they felt sufficiently confident to try their first mountain.

Bendrigg, an old hunting lodge with 15 acres of grounds, aims to allow people to learn more about themselves and their potential abilities by offering a wide variety of outdoor and indoor activities. The grounds, half of which are woodland, are equipped for orienteering courses as well as camping and archery. There are floodlit ropes for night-time climbing; an adventure course, with rope netting for climbing, and a hillside snake tunnel which people can slide down on sacks. A tower has been built to provide climbing of all standards and to give people in wheelchairs a chance to try abseiling. The tower also has a special cave system to familiarise people with caves before they try real ones.

As Bendrigg is situated south-east of Kendal, groups regularly visit either the Lake District or the Yorkshire Dales. Other activities include canoeing, sailing, rock-climbing, hill-walking and visits to a nearby farm. In the evening, indoor games and craft activities are provided.

Those visiting Bendrigg might come individually or in a group, and will find that a programme of activities is pre-arranged but tailored to their preferences, abilities and expectations. Everyone is expected to share and help staff with the lodge's various daily domestic duties - including cleaning and cooking. This is seen as equally important in developing a person's independence and sense of achievement.

Bendrigg's dining-room urgently needs to be restored and extended: its recreational role between mealtimes is vital. The trust has raised pounds 40,000 towards the building work but still needs a further pounds 26,000 to complete the programme. For more information, contact: Trevor Clarke, the Principal, Bendrigg Trust, Old Hutton, Kendal, Cumbria LA8 0NR, telephone 0539 723766.

HOST (Hosting for Overseas Students) was jointly founded in 1987 by the British Council, the Victoria League and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, to promote international friendship and understanding. It introduces international students studying in Britain to families who will have them to stay during Christmas - the busiest time - or Easter and sometimes on other weekends. Last Christmas about 2,000 students were placed with families; the agency does not discriminate against single people wanting to join the scheme provided that they, like everyone else, can guarantee a warm welcome. HOST is keen to encourage anyone who would like to offer their home for a few days this Christmas.

HOST, 18 Northumberland Avenue, London WC2N 5BJ, telephone 071-925 2595.

The Charleston Trust, an independent charity formed to care for and conserve Charleston Farmhouse, the Sussex home of the painter Vanessa Bell and meeting-place of the Bloomsbury group, is holding a fireworks party tomorrow night in Charleston's grounds. It begins at 5pm, when the house is open for viewing; refreshments will be served before the show. From 1 November, both the house and the shop will be open from 2pm to 5pm at weekends only. For further information about tickets for tomorrow evening ( pounds 4.75 for adults and pounds 2 for children), contact:

Charleston Farmhouse, near Firle, Lewes, East Sussex BN8 6LL, telephone 0323 811265.

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