Many families are excluded from places that are inaccessible to wheelchair users and those with more hidden disabilities. This makes much of the countryside no-go areas for some in our community. The Balmedie Beach Wheelchairs project aims to change that on Balmedie Beach.
In the spring of 2017, a local Mum approached The Sand Bothy team about how Balmedie Beach and Country Park could be made more accessible. Her son, a full-time wheelchair user, was unable to get to the beach and enjoy the exhilaration of being close to the sea.
At around the same time a local charity called Promoting a More Inclusive Society (PAMIS) got involved with the Sand Bothy and were very supportive of making the beach more accessible on a more permanent basis so those young and old, big or small could get to the Beach and Park.
We carried out some market research with over 150 families in the Autumn of 2017 and were overwhelmed by the support we got from families all over the region to make this a reality.
The Sand Bothy team consulted Aberdeenshire Council staff about access to the beach and they agreed that an access for all route should be maintained at all times. Aberdeenshire Council also agreed to us using a large shed (now known as The Bunker) in Balmedie Country Park to store wheelchairs and other equipment. We then spent time making The Bunker a clean, comfortable place where families can go to meet the volunteers and collect a beach wheelchair for their trips.
Between January and August 2018 we worked very hard to raise funds, recruit volunteers and get expert advice on what equipment to buy. We also found out what safety standards we would need to observe, what training would be required for volunteers and how we should run the project. As part of this we made sure that all our volunteers are Protecting Vulnerable Groups (PVG) scheme checked.
On Sunday 12 August 2018 we were delighted to have our wheelchairs in use on the beach for the first time.
When we were setting up the Balmedie Beach Wheelchairs in Aberdeenshire we worked closely with Beach Wheelchairs, a Scottish Charity working to ensure that everyone can enjoy our beautiful beaches. They have several beach wheelchairs locations around the Edinburgh area.
We delighted to get support in cash and kind for the project from the following groups and individuals:
We also raised funds via a Just Giving Funding page, collection boxes, a stall at Balmedie Gala and via Gift Aid from individual donations. We are very grateful to all our funders for their support to enable us to set up the project.
We are very grateful to the individuals, families, carers, businesses, organisations, professionals and volunteers who have helped us get us going in all sorts of ways, with generous financial help, advice and support. This really has been a team effort!
Phone: 07864 350989 or 07541 112377
How to find us
Park at the main Car Park in Balmedie Country Park, AB23 8XG, near the Sand Bothy. Follow signs to All Access route to beach, and you will find The Bunker on the left of the path.
Sundays 12 noon to 3pm. Other days and times may be possible depending on availability of volunteers – give us a call to discuss.