Special wheelchairs will help disabled people enjoy South Shields’ beaches

Emma Lewell-Buck Mp, third right,  with her  team at Littlehaven and one of the wheelchairs
Emma Lewell-Buck Mp, third right, with her team at Littlehaven and one of the wheelchairs

Wheelchair users will soon be able to hit the beach - thanks to an MP.

The charity Beach Access North East is to supply two specially-designed wheelchairs which can operate over sand after being contacted by South Shields MP Emma Lewell-Buck.

The Labour MP met with the Caroline Corfield, chairwoman of the charity, with the aim of giving people the option of using the beach wheelchairs, which are already in use in North Tyneside.

She then held a street stall near Littlehaven Beach asking for views on the wheelchairs.

Mrs Lewell-Buck is delighted that the charity has agreed to loan two of the chairs to the town.

She said: “I was really pleased that we achieved so much positive feedback from passers-by, both from locals and visitors.

“Most said they would be more likely to visit again knowing that South Shields beach would have access for wheelchair users.

“Shields has some incredible beaches and a beautiful coastline, and it will be fantastic to be able to make them accessible to everyone.”

Mrs Lewell-Buck is now looking for potential storage areas for the machines - and hopes they will be in use imminently.

Ms Corfield added “The event was about raising awareness for our charity and letting the people of South Shields know that, hopefully soon, the beaches here will be accessible to everyone.

“I would like to thank Emma for getting behind us and offering us her support.”

Mrs Lewell-Buck has also gained the backing of local charity BLISS=Ability, which she met with recently to share plans for beach access.

Sharon Bell, the service’s chief officer, said: “I think this is a marvellous idea, and we welcome Emma’s plans to work with Beach Access North East to bring beach wheelchairs to Shields so everyone can enjoy our marvellous beaches.”

A South Tyneside Council spokesman said: “The council was asked, on behalf of the charity, for permission to set up a stall to showcase the wheelchairs.

“We were happy to give permission, and are delighted to support the charity which already operates from Tynemouth Longsands and Blyth Beach.”

Further details about Beach Access North East can be found at the following www.beachaccessnortheast.org.