A Northumberland man with 14 years' service in the health service has moved to fill a gap in the market by opening new holiday accommodation for disabled people.
Kevin Richards, 50, of Cow Road in Spittal, has worked for the North East Ambulance Service taking patients from Berwick and outlying areas to hospitals in Newcastle for 14 years.
Through chatting to patients while at work, Mr Richards became aware of a lack of holiday accommodation suitable for people with disabilities.
Now with wife Sharon he has opted to meet that need by opening two holiday properties with full disabled access on his land at Berwick, spending around £750,000 on the project.
He said: "When you talk to people they say they would love to go away on holiday. They are so restricted with places to go, they are very limited.
"I thought there was a gap in the market for disabled access. I thought it is not a bad idea seeing what is going on in the hospital environment."
Mr Richards originally lived at Gateshead but moved to Ladykirk in the Scottish Borders around 20 years ago, before relocating to Berwick 12 years ago.
He bought a four-bedroomed house on Cow Road and acquired a neighbouring plot of land.
Officers from Berwick Borough Council met Mr Richards on site and advised that he would only get planning permission if he developed the plot for business use.
He built a new six-bedroom holiday home on the site.
Mr Richards has moved into the upstairs of the new-build and the three bedrooms downstairs are available as an apartment for disabled people and their families or carers.
The four-bedroomed house has also been converted into a holiday home.
Both properties have disabled access including ramps as well as wet rooms and balconies suitable for wheelchairs.
Together they can cater for 12 people and Mr Richards or a member of his family can be available around the clock to offer assistance.
Berwick Jounallive, 2nd April 2009