After over two years of planning, fundraising and hard work Fleetwood can be rightly proud of being the first town on the Fylde coast to introduce a dedicated ‘beach wheelchair’ service. The venture was the brainchild of Fleetwood Rotary Club member Mick Gray who Chairs the group and its Trustees, and it is now a Registered Charity, number 1187870. and a member of the National Council for Voluntary Organisations.
The Charity has the encouragement and support of Fleetwood Rotary, Fleetwood Town Council, Healthier Fleetwood, Wyre Borough Council and the Haldane Trust.
Beach wheelchairs are not just ‘adapted’ normal wheelchairs, but specially engineered chairs suitable for beach environments. Made of high-grade metal which can withstand the conditions of sand and sea. They also have unique low-pressure tyres to aid ease of access over stones, shingle and wet and dry sand conditions; as well as when suitable being able to go into the surf.
The whole concept is a world away from the normal wheelchair which is almost impossible to move over such terrain, essentially depriving users of chairs the ability to access the beach and enjoy a great day out with their family or carers. The service is open to people of all ages who may have health and mobility issues which just prevent them from accessing our beaches in the conventional way, so please come along and see us you would be most welcome
The group’s progress can be seen on its web page at https://www.fleetwoodbeachwheelchairs.co.uk/, and the web site will be updated as the group expands. There are links also to Facebook (Fleetwood Beach Wheelchairs) and Twitter where more information can be found, along with their dedicated beach wheelchair booking line. They can be called on 03000 111 003 in advance or call in to use the chairs.
The group have their headquarters on the promenade next to the beach opposite the Mount Hotel, just next to the snack bar.
There is free parking on-site, and the use of wheelchairs is entirely free. You will find a dedicated team of volunteers to assist you, and in the current circumstances a Covid 19 safe environment.
The group have strict safety protocols and cleansing procedures when using chairs. If users require the use of a hoist or ‘stander’ we have these also, but you need to use your own straps. We also have details of our tides and beach conditions and have contact with our local Coastal Watch services. Fleetwood is blessed with good beach conditions which enable operations most of the time weather permitting, and we have the best views on the Fylde coast.
We have a present five specialist chairs, one suitable for smaller children, but our operation is growing and based upon our recent phenomenal success we will need more. The group have been grateful for all the financial support given by groups and individuals, but we always need to fundraise, and any donations are gratefully received. Specialist wheelchairs of the kind we use are not cheap, and we also need to keep them in tip-top condition. A donation link for anyone who wishes to contribute can be accessed via the group’s web page.
We aim to grow and develop our facilities, but already our reputation is growing fast, a fantastic result which is rewarding enough for all the dedication and hard work by all our helpers.
All photographs used with permission of the participants and family