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Floating wheelchair for hire trialled by council

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Lyme Regis Town Council has invested in a floating wheelchair to add to its fleet of beach wheelchairs, which were introduced last year to allow disabled people to access beaches.

The equipment was donated to the town council by resident Rene Wyndham.

Disabled Lyme Regis resident, Vicci Stocqueler, was the first to try out the wheelchair and was pushed into the water by town councillor Richard Doney and Ms Wyndham.

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Ms Stocqueler, whose left leg is paralysed, has very limited use of her left arm, and arthritis on her right side, hasn’t been able to go in the sea in Britain for 16 years.

She said: “It was really good fun and I felt quite safe. It felt dignified and relaxing.”

In the past, she has been forced to watch her friends and family enjoying the sea from the parade, wishing she could join them.

“It’s quite lonely when you’re disabled watching other people doing things,” she said.

“There are 20 million families affected by some sort of disability in Britain, and that’s just the ones who are registered, and to be able to go into the sea and be part of things with friends and family will make a huge difference.”

Ms Wyndham donated the wheelchair to the town in memory of her parents, after seeing a family using a floating wheelchair in France.

She said: “They looked absolutely blissful and I had never heard of it in England, so I thought I had to do something.

“We sold my late parents’ flat a few years ago and while I had a little bit of money, I wanted to give something back to the community.

“This is the realisation of a dream I have had for several years.”

She hopes other coastal resorts will be encouraged to provide floating wheelchairs.

She said: “It’s all very well taking people to swimming pools, but this is about the sound of the sea, the gulls, the fresh air, unlimited freedom and space, and feeling part of this lovely vast bay we have here in Lyme Regis.”

Cllr Richard Doney, who has championed accessibility initiatives by the town council, said: “The floating wheelchair will help more people with disabilities enjoy the water, something they can’t do on a regular basis, if at all.

“There is a very wide variety of disabilities and we are not set up for people with disabilities to enjoy life as much as able-bodied people. We need to change that, so everyone can enjoy Lyme Regis to its full potential.”

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Joe Peskett

The author Joe Peskett

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