All-terrain wheelchairs helping more people hit the beach in South Shields this summer

More visitors will be able to access South Tyneside’s stunning coastline this summer, thanks to all-terrain wheelchairs on the beach.

Millie Fountain being pushed in one of the beach wheelchairs by her dad
Millie Fountain being pushed in one of the beach wheelchairs by her dad

Charity Beach Access North East is working with South Shields Surf School to provide free adapted wheelchairs on Sandhaven Beach.

The three wheelchairs, which can operate on soft sand, are available for free hire throughout the summer season.

A further chair, which can allow users to go into the shallow water, is expected next month.

Sandhaven Beach.

Councillor Joan Atkinson, deputy leader at South Tyneside Council, said it was great to see the borough’s beaches being ‘enjoyed by all’.

“Beach Access North East’s free loan service is improving accessibility along our coastline,” she said.

“We are very proud to have their facility available at South Shields, working hand in hand with the Surf School.

“South Tyneside has a wonderful tourism offer, with our award-winning beaches a main focal point for many.

“Being able to open up beach access to those who may have previously been restricted is an important part of that. Our golden sands are there to be enjoyed by all.”

The service, which is run by unpaid volunteers, is growing in popularity each year and the charity is always on the lookout for more helpers.

Steve Turnbull, of Beach Access North East, said the wheelchair scheme was gradually reaching more and more people.

“More and more people are hearing about us and demand is growing,” he said.

“We’ve had more than 20 hires at South Shields in the last fortnight. It’s extremely rewarding, seeing the smiles on people’s faces, especially children’s.

“Some users haven’t been able to visit a beach in years, so it’s fantastic to make the sand and sea accessible to them once again.”

He added: “We have a wonderful team of dedicated volunteers who give up their time to run the service, and we’d love to hear from anyone who would like to join us.”

Volunteers are given full training and are not required to transfer people into the chairs or to push them along the beach.

For further information, or to book a chair visit http://www.beachaccessnortheast.org/

Support your Gazette and become a subscriber today. Enjoy unlimited access to local news, the latest football stories and new puzzles every day. With a digital subscription, you can see fewer ads, enjoy faster load times, and get access to exclusive newsletters and content. Click here to subscribe.