Crowdfunding is set to begin in Exmouth to fund beach wheelchairs to hire to disabled residents and visitors.
A crowdfunding campaign, lasting a month, is expected to launch within weeks to raise the £25,000-plus needed to fund secure storage and a start-up of three beach wheelchairs.
If the service proves successful, the town hopes to increase the number of beach wheelchairs available to hire.
A crowdfund website has been created and once launched will accept cash pledges of support.
It is hoped to crowdfund a slice of the £25,000 needed for storage, and raise further funding through grants.
The beach wheelchairs will be available to hire from April until September, booked in advance from Exmouth Town Council.
Exmouth hopes to offer floating wheelchairs – for those who want family or friends to swim alongside – and wheelchairs that can be pushed through the water, or if the user wants to sit and fish from the beach.
Cllr Pauline Stott, spearheading the project, on Monday told Exmouth Town Council how a seafront storage site had been identified opposite the RNLI lifeguard station.
She said further funding for beach wheelchairs could be available from the local authority.
Cllr Stott, who won unanimous council support to begin a crowdfund campaign, said: “The crowd funder website will run for one month. Once it reaches twenty-five per cent, all those pledges will count as money and we can go for the money from the county and district councils, and the police.
“It’s about £25,000 because we want a large storage unit. There’s no point getting a small one because I can see that more beach wheelchairs will be needed in the future so we want a purpose-built one.
“I am sure once it starts it will prove very successful.”
- Videos showing similar types of beach wheelchairs being considered for Exmouth. Video by sandriderusa.com
Video by www.johnpreston.co.uk
Exmouth’s beach wheelchairs will be the first of their kind in East Devon.
Cllr Stott said bringing beach wheelchairs to Exmouth could ‘fulfil someone’s dream’ of being able to go onto the sand with their family and friends.
She said the floating wheelchairs, purpose-built for all ages, meant the user could experience the sea around them – possibly for the first time – enabling family or friends to swim alongside.
Cllr Stott said: “These are used in America all the time. If you go to the beach in Cornwall, they have them from EU funding. If you go to Lyme Regis, that’s the nearest one to here.”
Cllr Stott’s presentation to the council included a short video showing two types of beach wheelchair.
Both have large wheels designed for sand; the designs include wheelchairs that can be pushed through water, and another that floats.