Friends inspire second beach-friendly motorised wheelchair in seaside town

Locals raised money to help two women enjoy the sand together with their dogs using new wheelchairs.

North Berwick beach has become one of the first Scottish seaside towns to secure a second beach-friendly motorised wheelchair after being inspired by the friendship of two women.

Beach Wheelchairs provides free chairs suitable for beach access to those with limited mobility in North Berwick and Portobello, but those behind the charity wanted to widen its inclusivity.

Wilma Lawrie and Sally Hyder from Edinburgh met four years ago through their assistance dogs and regularly visit North Berwick beach.

After watching their friendship grow, the charity began fundraising with the local community to ensure the pair could enjoy the sand together with their canine companions.

The pair have been friend for four yearsSTV News

Wilma said: “I’ve not been on the beach since 1984, and I’ve had my assistance dog for five years, and we regularly go to the beach but we stay on the prom and the dogs are on the beach and they’re looking at us like ‘why are you not down here?”

“We came here and my dog suddenly realised we’re there with them and she was just so overjoyed and so were we. I think there was a big emotional thing to it for us.”

Sally said: “Everybody else can go on the beach with their friend – and this enabled us to just go on the beach and be disgraceful as we usually are and go mad. It just meant that we could have fun together.

“There’s nothing like having the wind in your hair and the sea on your face and you grin so much that your teeth go dry. It’s so much fun.”

And while the introduction of a second chair was inspired by their story, Wilma and Sally are excited that it will allow more families and friends like them to make memories by the sea.

Sally and Wilma enjoying quality time with their assistance dogs on the beach.STV News

Melanie Kay, deputy-chair of Beach Wheelchairs said: “When we met them last year, they really were part of the inspiration behind being able to get that second chair.

“When we told the stories to the local community I think everybody was quite overwhelmed at just how powerful it is, those two getting onto the beach.

“Seeing them today, with their dogs running about, it’s hard not to get choked up about it sometimes. It’s brilliant.”

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