On the blog

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

The Isle of Man’s alternative TT

What possesses someone to drive around the Isle of Man for hours, with a toilet perched on their car roof? Toilet Twinning champion Rosemary Clarke and our CEO Lorraine Kingsley come clean…

Manx residents were caught unawares by the scene that greeted them that sunny spring morning.

A van topped with a toilet and decorated with loo brushes, balloons and bunting wound its merry way through towns and villages across the island for a full seven hours, before coming to a halt outside the Tynwald.

Twenty-eight times over the course of the day, the Toilet Tour-ists parked up, dived out and rushed to the loo.

It was not a case of overactive bladders. Rather they were marking a world first: the Isle of Man becoming our first-ever Toilet Twinned Island.

The Toilet Tour reaches Douglas. Photo: Isle of Man Today

'It’s not often you get invited into people’s homes to look at their loos or drive around in a toilet-topped van!’ says Rosemary (pictured front right, above). ‘But it was marvellous to see the enthusiasm of all the twinners and to be able to celebrate our new status as the world’s first Toilet Twinned Island.’

Over the past five years, more than 130 toilets have been twinned across the Island, in schools, businesses, churches and offices. Our Toilet Twinned awards are given to special communities which go above and beyond to twin toilets and work together to make a difference.

The earliest recorded toilet twins on the Island go right back to January 2011. Then, Manx twinning was given fresh impetus by Rosemary Clarke and colleagues at the One World Centre in St Johns when they launched a ‘Twin your toilet’ campaign with Churches Alive in Man during One World Week in 2014.

Knockaloe Beg Farm in Peel - and guests
One World Centre itself has held various memorable events including entering a Christmas ‘lav-a-tree’ made of loo brushes in the Festival of Trees at Ronaldsway Airport in 2014.

‘Twinning a toilet is such an easy thing to do and can have such a positive impact on the health, education and economic prospects of others. We’re delighted so many people have taken up the challenge and hope the tour might inspire even more people to do so.'

Lorraine (pictured second from right, front row, above) says, ‘It was truly heart-warming to tour the island, and see so many individuals, schools, churches and business people who were genuinely thrilled to be part of the day – and part of Toilet Twinning’s mission. We received a warm welcome wherever we went – even with people who let us run into their home and take a photo of them sitting on the loo with their certificate!’ 

The Toilet Tour ended with a reception at the Legislative Buildings in Douglas hosted by Ray Harmer MHK and David Anderson MLC. Toilet twinners were invited for a celebratory cuppa and a slice of toilet-themed cake, as Lorraine presented the award to Ray Harmer.

The TT reaches Henry Bloom Noble Primary School in Douglas
Of course, becoming a Toilet Twinned Village, Town, City or Island is just the start of the next leg of the journey: several Islanders have been inspired to twin their toilets as a result of the Toilet Tour.

Manx twinners are on a roll and don’t look like stopping any time soon, if Gladys Corlett of Onchan Methodist Church is anything to go by.

‘Both my grandmothers on the Island had outside loos and I'm so thankful we don't have that today,’ says Gladys. ‘We think that everybody deserves a decent toilet. Millions of people don't have access to one – and that's totally unacceptable. If you can help in any way at all, you feel you must.’

·         Find out more about how your community can become Toilet Twinned