Coastguards fund beach wheelchair for Shoreham school
A beach wheelchair is on order for a Shoreham school, following the presentation of a cheque by HM Coastguard Shoreham.
All ten Shoreham coastguards completed a stretcher carry from Brighton Pier to Worthing Pier to raise money for the specialised wheelchair for Herons Dale Primary School and presented a cheque for £3,137.41 on Tuesday.
Organiser Carl Ladkin, a coastguard rescue officer, said the chair had now been ordered and should be with the children by September.
Herons Dale has been running beach school sessions since October, which have given the children fantastic hands-on experience.
Teacher Tracy Vise said: “We soon realised we had children who are less mobile who would not be able to access these sessions due to the fact they are in wheelchairs or use walkers.
“This got us to thinking how we could solve this problem. Brighton and Hove seafront office very kindly lent us one of their beach wheelchairs to see if we felt one would work for us.
“We then needed to start to work on the fundraising to allow us to get one for our school. Very quickly, the community got behind us and C&M Building services, along with Ian Russell, carp angler, Adur East Lions and The Co-op in Ham Road and their customers all held events and made donations to us, which started the ball rolling.
“In the meantime, the coastguards came to visit school to do a session with our children, telling them what they do and letting them look at their vehicle. The coastguards were very inspired by our children and took the cause of the beach wheelchair to heart and before we knew it, they offered to do a pier-to-pier stretcher walk raising extra funds.”
The coastguards said they all enjoyed the charity stretcher carry, using a life-size dummy, and they hoped the chair would give the children fantastic benefits.
The walk took around five hours and included a stop-off at the Shoreham RNLI lifeboat station.
Mr Ladkin said there were frequent stops along the way to talk to members of the public about their goal and the role of the coastguard.
He added: “We had fantastic support along the route and would like to thank everyone who has donated and supported us.”
Jane Self, owner of Nicosy, was also at the presentation as she has donated one of her wheelchair wraps to keep the children warm when using the chair.
She said the cause was close to her heart as she had spent many of her years on the beach and at sea, and feels very strongly that all children should have free access to the coast.
Jane saw the coastguards fundraising appeal on social media and wanted to help.
Her small business, based in Bury St Edmunds, designs and sells wraps made from a soft fleece material that fix directly to wheelchairs.
Jane said she made a bespoke version for Herons Dale, to accommodate the unusual chair dimensions.