A DAD of a disabled daughter is calling on Cork County Council to invest in more beach wheelchairs across the county after their positive experience of using one at the Warren Beach in Rosscarbery.
Ger O’Dea, a community engagement officer with the National Ambulance Service and living in Castlelyons, was on holidays in West Cork with his daughters Kate (6) and Lilly (9). Lilly suffers from a very rare condition known as Pitt-Hopkins syndrome and is unable to talk or walk.
Speaking to The Southern Star, Ger said the beach wheelchair ‘opened up the beach for Lilly’ and praised the Council for facilitating it.
‘Lilly loved it as she loves water and splashing and they both really enjoyed it. It’s absolutely brilliant because with its huge wheels you can easily push it along the soft sand and there’s a full proper harness as well and it’s a purpose built chair,’ said Ger.
‘Katie was absolutely thrilled too to be able to play with Lilly and hop the waves and travel up the beach together. They had so much fun that I booked it again for them days later.’
The all-terrain beach Hippocampe chair – which has balloon type wheels that can travel over soft sand unlike regular wheelchairs – was launched last year and the wheelchair can be taken out in one hour slots by pre-booking it free of charge through Rosscarbery Pitch & Putt Club.
‘The Warren Beach is the only beach in the county that has one and was selected following an audit of a number of beaches by the Disability Federation of Ireland. There’s no reason why they can’t be in other beaches too though as Wexford County Council have eight around its coasts.’
Meanwhile, at a Council meeting last week, Cllr Ben Dalton O’Sullivan called for a report from the council to look at a roll out of beach wheelchairs across beaches in Cork.
‘The Warren Beach scheme is great for people with disabilities and wheelchair users and I want the report to look at locations and the costs involved and I would love to see one in Fountainstown,’ said Cllr O’Sullivan.
‘This would be a great project and to give these people a chance to enjoy going to the beaches.’
County mayor Cllr Mary Linehan Foley supported his call and also and suggested that it could be put forward to the Strategic Policy Committee (SPC) on inclusion.