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Weston's Grand Pier introduces "quiet hour" for visitors with autism

A new scheme has been introduced on Weston Super Mare's Grand Pier that see's it open early on the first Sunday of every month.

A new scheme has been introduced on Weston Super Mare's Grand Pier that see's it open early on the first Sunday of every month.

During a "quiet hour" between nine and 10 in the morning the usual background music is switched off, there are no tannoy annoucements and where possible, lighting will be reduced on the amusements and attractions. 

It's being done to make the pier more accessible for people with autism and other sensory issues. 

It's the latest in a series of moves  introduced by the Grand Pier to make the seafront attraction as accessible as possible to everyone.

In December, the Pier had early-opening “autism hours” at its Santa’s Grotto.

The Grand Pier’s General Manager, Tim Moyle, said: “It’s generally quieter on the Pier when we first open on a Sunday morning anyway, in terms of visitor numbers.

“But by opening even earlier once a month, it makes the environment even more welcoming for those who experience difficulties with large crowds or too much noise.

“The Pier Pavilion is naturally noisy by nature, with all the rides, amusement machines, music and flashing lights, and we recognise that this may deter some people from visiting.

“Hopefully the monthly early opening will encourage those who may have been put off in the past from coming to the Pier and being able to make the most of all the fun activities on offer in a more inviting and comfortable environment.

“We’re committed to doing whatever we can to ensure that the Grand Pier is a family-focused attraction that truly offers something for everyone and this is another step towards achieving this.”

Deborah Branovits, from Weston-super-Mare, is the mother of a profoundly autistic 11-year-old boy, who enjoys visiting the Pier.

She said: “During busier times, like school holidays, the Pier is understandably quite busy.

"There are lots of people, and it can be very noisy.

“My son, Matthew, often asks to go onto the Pier, but as soon as we get to the Pavilion, he sometimes finds the noise overwhelming, clasps his hands to his ears, and makes us turn back straight away.

"It’s a sensory overload for him.

“We took him to Santa’s Grotto during the ‘quiet hour’ on a Sunday morning in December, and he really enjoyed it.

"It was so nice for us, as a family, that he was able to enjoy something in the run-up to Christmas that most other children do.

“I was so pleased to hear that the Pier is going to do an early opening once a month to make it more tolerable for people like Matthew, who often miss out on fun activities because of their sensory difficulties.”

The Grand Pier has an Accessibility Guide on its website, which can be downloaded, which has information about its facilities and services for those with special needs.

All areas of the Pavilion and function rooms have lift and escalator access; disabled access toilets are also available on all floors.

There is also an Essential Companions scheme to ensure guests are able to receive the support they need in order to visit and enjoy the Grand Pier.

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