Fundraiser for beach wheelchairs to make seaside more accessible

Families back campaign to purchase the first beach wheelchairs to make the Moray coast more inclusive.

A campaign has been launched to make Nairn beach more accessible to wheelchair users.

A group of volunteers have launched a crowdfunder to purchase the first beach wheelchairs for the Moray coast.

The campaign’s being backed by a growing number of supporters, including ten-year-old Kian Watt, who loves visiting Nairn beach with his Mum and Dad.

He can’t travel onto the sand at Nairn in his wheelchair but was recently able to use a beach wheelchair in Dornoch.

His parents, Kevin and Colene Watt say it would be life-changing to have local facilities closer to home.

Colene told STV News: ”Inclusion and accessibility are so important to us.

“Outings are quite limited for Kian, so many things just aren’t accessible at all. It would benefit him so much and so many other people.”

Seamus McArdle from the Nairn Access Panel backed the move to make the beach more accessible

Beach wheelchairs are already available at other seaside destinations across Scotland.

Kian’s dad Kevin said: ”The chairs just open up different avenues. They let Kian experience the things do the things that other kids are able to do every day.”

Margaret-Anne Bruce was treated by her daughter Jane to a trip to Dornoch beach for her birthday.

Since then, the family has raised more than £500 to purchase the wheelchairs at Nairn.

Margaret-Anne said: ”Watching other people being able to go across on the beach doing the things we used to do and I thought wouldn’t it be lovely again.

“Then, for Jane and Gordie to give me that treat again way back in April, it meant so much to me so being able to go and down and feel the water on toes.”

Campaigners are aiming to raise £15,000, which will go towards the purchase of two chairs and equipment.

Talks are underway to find a suitable site.

Seamus McArdle from Nairn Access Panel is backing the move.

He said: ”We’re trying to make more access points for disabled people to get as close to the proximity of the beach as possible, beyond the sand dunes, to be able to be with their friends and family rather than sitting on the path away out of reach of the beach from all the fun.

”Having a proper beach wheelchair with the larger wheels enables you to be pushed all over the beach. It’s a lovely six mile beach here in Nairn and it will just open up the whole area to people with disabilities.”

Gavin Cobb, co-founder of Nairn Beach Wheelchair project, is a paediatrician and says accessing the beach is therapeutic for all ages.

He said: ”For a lot of people, this is as far as they can get just on the tarmac at the top of the beach path.

“They can’t get down to have that family experience so it’s about inclusivity and it’s about sharing that experience with the families.”

The group hope to raise enough funds by Christmas to ensure the wheelchairs are ready for use by summer next year.

The group have a Facebook page and crowdfunder here.

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