Beach Wheelchairs is a project based in North Berwick, East Lothian to provide both paediatric and adult beach wheelchairs for loan free of charge from the Beach Hut, located within the harbour. The project started operating in July 2015 with an official opening by crime writer Ian Rankin. In December 2015 the project gained charitable status.
The simple pleasure of being able to get onto the sand and down to the water’s edge is something that most of us take for granted but when you are a wheelchair user is almost impossible. The project allows people to get right onto the beach using our specially designed balloon tyre beach wheelchairs.
Alison Brown from the project said:
“Despite the poor summer we experienced last year the beach wheelchairs have now been hired out on over 50 occasions. We are really delighted that we have been able to help so many individuals access the beautiful beaches here in North Berwick. The benefits are huge, not just for the individual but for the whole family. The project enables people to join their loved ones on the beach instead of just looking on from afar. For many, a new and unique experience helping to make precious and lasting memories.”
Sarah Clifton was in North Berwick on holiday with her family and saw an advert for Beach Wheelchairs at the local chip shop. She loved the experience and service provided stating:
“Can’t thank you guys enough for today! For the first time since her accident Sarah could go down to the beach with her husband, kids and dog and have an amazing time. She even dipped her toe in the sea!”
Janice McKee used the Hippocampe beach wheelchair with her son. Janice said:
“Having a ball using the Hippocampe beach wheelchair. Exploring rock pools, running into the paddling pool and enjoying ice cream on the beach! All a first! A fab day welcomed by great volunteers.”
The project has a range of different wheelchairs:
- A Nomad adult wheelchair manufactured by Adventure Mobility which uses a simple manual wheelchair seat making it relatively light and manoeuvrable;
- A debug adult beach wheelchair which has tilt in space, lateral supports, head rest, leg and foot rest;
- A paediatric hippocampe wheelchair which has armrests, a foot-well, a chest strap and can be used in conjunction with a vacuum beanbag insert for additional support
- A Joy on the Beach walker which has a flip down seat.
The project provides a range of wheelchairs to help as many people as possible use the service and get onto the beach. The project is run by volunteers who are happy to provide more information about the wheelchairs and discuss your needs when you phone. They will also arrange a hire period that suits you and arrange to meet you at the Beach Hut. The beach wheelchairs are available every day during daylight hours.
Currently the project does not have a hoist to assist with transfers between your personal wheelchair and a beach wheelchair. However, this is something they are researching and hope to provide in the future.