A fundraising campaign launched by a family from Ballymena in December in support of the Mae Murray Foundation has resulted in making Portstewart an Inclusive Beach.
Mum of three, Anna Corry, launched the initiative on her Instagram platform, Blossoming Birds, with the aim of helping to ensure the beach she visited with her husband Colin and their daughters Bella (8), Annie (7) and Martha (2) would be able to offer the free hire of equipment for disabled people and those with extra mobility needs.
In just one week she raised almost £20,000 thanks to the generosity of her social media community combined with a match-funding initiative from National Emergency Trust and Sport NI. All proceeds went towards purchasing a range of equipment to enable those with disabilities to enjoy a walk on the beach and join in community activities and events as well as full staff training to make Portstewart an Inclusive Beach in time for the busy summer season.
Anna Corry said: “As a family, there is nothing we love more than a day at the beach. Last summer, I met a lovely local family who were unable to enjoy this time together because their son’s wheelchair was not suitable for the sand, so he had to watch from the path with his mum. This was heartbreaking to watch and I knew I could use my social media platform to help change this.
We are thrilled that the fundraising initiative has led to Portstewart becoming an Inclusive Beach. This equipment will now give disabled people and their families the chance to enjoy the simple pleasure of a day at the beach and special memories that we all take for granted. I would like to thank the Mae Murray Foundation for the amazing service they provide to people across Northern Ireland and the work they are doing to help make local beaches accessible for everyone.”
Conor O’Kane, a facility user and board member of the Mae Murray Foundation said: “This is my first day being able to use Portstewart Beach which is why this new equipment means so much to so many people with different disabilities. It’s great that families can now come and enjoy the beach, something so simple. I’d like to thank everyone for their donations that have made this possible. Growing up, I missed out on days at the beach and now I’m looking forward to making up for lost time.”
Alix Crawford’s daughter, Talia (22), has quadriplegic cerebral palsy and their experiences as a family and the barriers Talia faced, led her to set up the Mae Murray Foundation in 2016.
“Portstewart is the actual beach I took Talia as a baby, but she was unable to take part, so to be here 20 years later with all these chairs and beach walkers is just fantastic. So many people of all ages and abilities are going to benefit. This has only been made possible by the amazing fundraising and crowdfunding campaign spearheaded by Anna Corry and her followers at Blossoming Birds who donated money and really got behind our vision. A massive thank you to everyone who contributed,” Alix added.