A family from Ballymena has launched a fundraising campaign in support of the Mae Murray Foundation to help make Portstewart an Inclusive Beach time in for the new 2022 season.
The campaign, which was launched by mother of three, Anna Corry, on Sunday evening on her Instagram platform, Blossoming Birds, aims to help ensure the beach will be able to offer the free hire of equipment for disabled people.
Over £8,000 has been raised to date with all proceeds going towards buying a range of equipment to make Portstewart an Inclusive Beach including floating chairs, which enable wheelchair users or those who are unsteady on their feet to enjoy a swim in the sea; all-terrain wheelchairs, which enable those with disabilities to enjoy a walk or run on the beach and join in community activities and events; beach crutches and beach walker for those who need support to walk on the beach and textured beach walkways with contrast markings for those who are blind or have vision impairments.
Anna Corry said: “As a family, there is nothing we love more than days at the beach. However, this summer we met a lovely family at Portstewart Beach who were unable to do the same because their son’s wheelchair was not suitable for the sand, so he had to watch from the path with his mum. We wanted to do something to help make sure that no families are left out from making memories together at the beach and that everybody can enjoy what so many of us take for granted.
We researched what was available in Northern Ireland and found the Mae Murray Foundation which has been providing equipment to help make beaches inclusive. We reached out to see how we could help and when we found out that the unit for a hoist and equipment storage is already at Portstewart Beach but unfortunately there has not been enough funds raised to purchase the essential equipment to enable users to use the beach, we knew what we had to do. I’ve purchased a sought-after Mulberry Lily bag and coin purse for a prize draw to help raise much-needed funds to help make the beach accessible to everyone by creating an inclusive environment. I hope this small gesture will go a long way in allowing people of all ages and abilities the chance to visit the beach and take part in activities and experience the sea and sand together.”
Mae Murray Foundation service user, Jane Stewart, whose sons Saul (age 12) and Archie (age 6) also have the genetic condition Spondyloepiphyseal Dysplasia (SED), which is a rare form of dwarfism, said: “For families like ours, this fundraising initiative means so much to us. Being able to access beach wheelchairs and other resources which enable disabled people and their families to take full advantage of the beaches and other areas that would normally be inaccessible to those with mobility difficulties, is life-changing. So many people are currently unable to feel the sand under their toes or taste the salty water in the sea, and now thanks to the kindness of Anna and her family, this is hopefully about to change for the visitors to Portstewart Beach.”
Pippa Campbell, Community Development Officer of the Mae Murray Foundation added: “This support means we will be able to provide plenty of chairs and equipment for people to come and use the beach. An Inclusive Beach provides many benefits for disabled people including improved physical and mental wellbeing and while it is something that we all take for granted, unfortunately it is something that so many are unable to do. Every donation counts and will go a long way in helping us get more people to the beach.”
The Mae Murray Foundation aims to enable people of all ages and abilities to take part in activities, experience the world and enjoy friendship together in an inclusive environment.
For further information or to enter the prize draw go to www.blossomingbirds.co.uk