International Rotary Support for The Hamish Foundation’s Beach Wheelchairs Project

Wed 28 Aug 19

Now in its second year of operation, the St Andrews Beach Wheelchairs project has reached almost one hundred and fifty wheelchair rentals to date and has received impressive feedback on social media channels praising the service offered and the volunteers involved in running the service over four days per week during the summer season from April to September on the West Sands Beach.

The Hamish Foundation, which is the local charity responsible for instigating this accessible tourism service, is delighted to have received a donation from the Rotary Club of St Andrews from the recent International Golf Week which was held in St Andrews. A cheque for just under £3,800 was presented by the Rotary Club of St Andrews to representatives of the St Andrews Beach Wheelchairs project and The Hamish Foundation.

In its ninety year history, the Rotary Club of St Andrews has been active in the community working on youth development, with older people and those in need. However, it has also done much work abroad. This has included water projects in Africa and Bangladesh, help for a school for abandoned girls in India and providing Shelter Boxes to disaster areas worldwide. On this occasion, however, the money for this donation has come from Rotarians from twenty six countries who came to St Andrews to take part in the club’s International Golf Week. The value of the cheque to St Andrews Wheelchairs is symbolic; at £3793.28 it is the exact amount given by the visitors in various ways during their stay. Club President John Christie referred to the generosity of the visiting Rotarians and the work of the event’s organising committee led by Rotarian Douglas Jackson.

The Rotary Club of St Andrews were delighted to support local St Andrews resident Jerry Beaulier who helped instigate the St Andrews Beach Wheelchairs project with Debbie MacCallum (Hamish Foundation trustee and current Chair of Tourism St Andrews) along with Jan Kerr (committee member of Tourism St Andrews). 

Since 2017, the Hamish Foundation has taken the lead on fundraising activities and worked with Tourism St Andrews to deliver the beach wheelchairs service to help make St Andrews a more accessible tourism destination. Without the tireless and dedicated volunteering from Jerry Beaulier to help run the ongoing service, the project would not have come to such a successful fruition.  The project currently has 5 trained volunteers who can assist with the hiring of the chairs to both locals and visitors.

Jerry Beaulier said: “All in all, the beach wheelchairs service allows those who have not been able to access the beach to enjoy the freedom of a beach walk often joined by family members and friends. From feedback received, the service offers a highly memorable day for the users of the beach chairs.”

Jerry continued: “And we have very exciting plans for 2020 to create a viewing platform and fully accessible walkway through the dunes which will be a fantastic addition to our current project.”

Aloyise Mulligan (mother of Niall Mulligan, pictured) who recently enjoyed time on the West Sands using the service said: “Thank you so much Jerry for all you do. It’s really great for us and Niall”.

John Christie (President of the Rotary Club of St Andrews) said: “We were delighted to make the donation as we have been kept abreast of the wheelchair project by Jerry since its inception and the Rotary club members are enthusiastic supporters. It also caught the imagination of our international guests this summer. The Beach Wheelchairs Project enhances the life of so many people and we are pleased to be associated with this important charity”.

The Hamish Foundation has continued to support accessible projects in the town and has actively been involved in fundraising for the installation of a Changing Places facility at the Bruce Embankment toilets, work on which will start in October, and supporting a sensory planting installation in Church Square. Alongside the viewing platform and the accessible walkway 2020 looks like a busy year for the local charity.

Maggie Picken from the Hamish Foundation said: “We would like to thank the Rotary Club for their kind and generous donation.  The funds will assist with making our beautiful and historic town of St Andrews more accessible and inclusive.”

Maggie continued: “A huge part of the project is the marketing and communication to our target audience and we have worked hard to ensure that we have an online booking system which is available through the Scotland’s Accessible Beaches App or the Hamish Foundation website which makes the service easily accessible to our users.  There is also a dedicated phone line.  Our active social media channels share the stories and photographs with the wider audience and businesses and we ensure that our leaflets are delivered to local hotels and businesses and often they support with fundraising activities. The businesses also benefit from our beach wheelchair users who want to find and book accessible accommodation and restaurants”.

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