Beach chairs win

Accessing the soft sand of Whyalla’s foreshore will now be much easier for those with a disability, with three new beach wheelchairs now available for the community to use.

The wheelchairs were purchased back in April thanks to funds raised by the British American Motorcycle Club and the Whyalla Lions Club, and are now available for use at Discovery Parks Whyalla Foreshore.

The community can rent the wheelchairs for a gold coin donation, with the proceeds to go towards the cost of maintenance.

It’s a great result for people like Irene McLaughlin and her son Stuart. Stuart lives with cerebral palsy, and often found it difficult to access the beach due to his wheelchair sinking into the wet sand.

However the blow-up tyres on a beach wheelchair gives him far greater access to the beach, and lets him get further into the water.

Whyalla Access Group member Michael Cresshull said the positive outcome showed that Whyalla still had a strong community spirit.

“It goes to show there’s a bit of community spirit still left in the tank to get something like this off the ground, despite Whyalla enduring a tough time over the past three years,” he said.

The British American Motorcycle Club’s recent Ride to Orroroo raised a significant amount towards securing beach wheelchairs in Whyalla.

President Chris Birch said it was great to see the beach wheelchairs get over the line.

“The reward is to see young people like Stuart down on the beach, enjoying it in their chairs,” he said.

Whyalla Access Group member Rachel Barlow said there was an untapped market of disabled tourism that the chairs could help access.

“The market includes families with children who have disabilities and grey nomads. It allows the whole family get down on the beach together, rather than one of them having to miss out,” she said.

Despite the positive result, access to the beach via wheelchair is still difficult.

“I will be approaching council for help with a small ramp needed outside the beach wheelchairs shed for easy access down to the beach,” Ms McLaughlin said.

“This has been a very good outcome and a team effort.”

To hire one of the beach wheelchairs, ring 8645 7474.