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Cornwall Council launches new facilities to support disabled people to access beaches in Bude

New facilities to support disabled people to access beaches and surrounding areas in Bude have been provided through an innovative partnership between Cornwall Council and local families of disabled children.  The new facilities will be officially opened at a special ceremony on Wednesday, 29 May.

The project has been led by the Council’s children’s services authority and the environment service.  The facilities include a new ramp and railing at Widemouth Bay to provide wheelchair access onto the beach, two Accessible beach huts, new sand chairs to support access to the sand and the sea, a Changing Places facility at Summerleaze beach and a wheelchair tandem bike which can be hired from the local cycle hire shop.  Four accessible bikes have also been purchased for use on the Camel Trail.

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The £124, 500 funding for the new facilities has come from the Council’s capital funds through the national programme of Aiming High for Disabled Children project.  This initiative ended in 2011.  Cornwall used capital funds to improve accessibility and inclusion of disabled children and their families within their local communities.

The facilities, all of which are available to the public, have been designed in partnership with local families who have disabled children.  Around 10 of these families will be taking part in the official launch ceremony on 29 May which will take place in two stages.  The families will be joined at the event by Jack Cordery, the Council’s Head of Service (Children's Social Work & Psychology Services); Cornwall Councillors and representatives of local families.

“I cannot emphasise enough the importance of this development for disabled children and adults in Cornwall,” said Jack Cordery.  “Cornwall has some of the most beautiful beaches in the world and they should be accessible to everyone, regardless of disability.   Along with Changing Places, this development is part of the Council’s commitment to disabled children and their families in Cornwall.”

“Cornwall is the UK’s most favourite holiday destination and our beaches are one of our most precious assets” added Malcolm Bell, Head of VisitCornwall.  “They are also a core facility for local people and it is important that they are accessible to all in our community, as well as to all our visitors.  This is why this new facility is so welcome as it will make a real difference to those who have been unable to fully enjoy Widemouth Bay beach to date”.

Cornwall Parent Carer Council has been involved with the design and evaluation of the new facilities.  “The Parent Carer Council endorses these much needed facilities, both for our local families and for visitors to our beautiful county” said Chair Kay Henry.  “As parents of children with disabilities we wish them to have the same opportunities as their peers, these facilities will enable them to achieve this.”

“The access ramp at Widemouth Bay will make a great difference to my enjoyment of the beach” added John, a paraplegic surfer.  “Previously I needed the good will of others to gain access but can now gain greater independence.  Thank you“.

“My daughter was born with hydrocephalus and cerebal palsy and didn't walk until she was three and a half so we never thought she would be able to cycle” said Julie Stych. “But last summer at the age of 8 she was given the great opportunity to try an adapted tricycle on the Camel Trail at Wadebridge.  I will never forget her little face light up and her saying "Mummy, I'm doing it, I'm doing it!!" I cried tears of joy that day just because another milestone of childhood was reached thanks to that opportunity."

Following the official opening the guests will have the opportunity to try out the accessible bikes and sand chairs and take part in a variety of beach games.

The programme for the launch event includes:

  • 11 am - official opening of the new ramp and railings at Widemouth Bay
  • 12 pm – official opening of the beach huts at Summerleaze beach
  • 12.30 -1.15pm – lunch
  • 1.15 – 2.15pm  - beach games
  • 2.30 – 3.30 pm – fishing

“Bude is a fantastic place and our beaches are very special” said Nigel Pearce, Cornwall Councillor for Bude.  “I am very pleased that this is a step closer to them being accessible to everyone."    

Changing Places are fully accessible toilets which contain a range of additional features and more space to meet the needs of people with disabilities. There are now 11 Changing Places facilities across Cornwall - making the Council one of the best authorities in the country for providing special changing facilities for people with disabilities in public buildings.

The Council’s scheme has been developed in response to the national Changing Places campaign which highlights the need to provide public toilets with extra features and more space to meet the needs of people with disabilities.  It is led by Council’s Directorates of Adult Care and Support and Children, School and Families, and its Environment and Property services. 

Story posted 20 May 2013

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