130904A_004THE UK’s first ever beach wheelchair race and obstacle course is set to take place on Longsands Beach in Tynemouth on Saturday, September 7th.  The ‘Longsands Beach Challenge’ will see both disabled and able-bodied participants using state-of-the-art all-terrain wheelchairs to race through the sand tackling obstacles on the way. In addition, there will be live demonstrations by leading wheelchair manufacturers.

Organised by Dolphin Lifts and Mobility and partner Shape Adaptations, director Stephen Smith, said: “The inspiration for the event came from my son James who has duchenne muscular dystrophy and uses an all-terrain wheelchair full-time to get around and have fun. The beauty of these chairs is that it gives the user so much more freedom enabling them to go where the majority of other chairs cannot.

“James is almost 17 now and absolutely loves his. Like most teenagers, he is a bit of a thrill seeker so we thought putting on an event like this for both disabled and able- young people to have fun would be a good idea, especially in the summer holidays. It also gives everyone a bit of a challenge. It has never been done in the UK before on a beach and I for one can’t wait to take part.

“Most chairs would not be able to make it onto sand so we are hoping that as well as having a fun day for all with exciting races and great prizes, that we can also raise awareness of beach accessibility for wheelchair users.”

Organisers Dolphin Lifts and Mobility and Shape Adaptations collaborated in December last year to launch Independent Living Showroom in Kingston Park which was officially opened by Paralympic Team GB star, Stephen Miller.

Smith added: “Stephen inspired us to get young people involved in a challenging but fun Olympic style event using the chairs and by doing so, we are hoping that we can raise enough money to eventually be able to have some all-terrain wheelchairs stationed at Longsands permanently so anyone who finds beach access difficult can loan one and enjoy the beach just like the rest of us.”

Permission has been given by North Tyneside Council which is also supporting the campaign for beach accessibility and leading injury and disability solicitors Irwin Mitchell is co-sponsoring the day.

The event is free and open to everyone – it will take place between 10am-4pm on Saturday, 7th September. The races will be taking place on the hour and top prizes will be given to the winners.

For more information and to register your interest please visit: www.independentlivingshowroom.co.uk |Twitter: @DolphinandShape | Facebook: IndependentLivingShowroom