ACCESS EASY: Nambour Special School student Lily Westcott heads to the beach.
ACCESS EASY: Nambour Special School student Lily Westcott heads to the beach. Geoff Potter

Sand won’t be a barrier for wheelchair access

WHAT happens when Main Beach's sandy expanse becomes a barrier to a section of our community who like a refreshing dip, or a jaunt, as much as anyone?

The most recent answer is that when Senior Constable Pierre Senekal of Noosa Heads Beat Station heard people with disabilities were finding it hard to get access to one of Australia's best beaches, he recruited the local business community to help.

And on Thursday, the end result was seeing the students from Nambour Special School being helped onto the sand by the likes of Noosa Heads lifesavers Lochie Landsdowne and Rhys Burrows in the $2500 beach wheelchair procured by the efforts of a proactive Queensland Police Service.

"There was an inquiry about if there was anything like that available," Sen Const Senekal said at the official presentation to the surf club.

"At that stage there was nothing available so we approached the local business community and they generously donated the $2500 that allowed us to buy this wheel chair."

The businesses to put their hands in their pockets were Princes Supa IGA Noosa, Cafe Le Monde, Laguna Jacks, JoJo Noosa Fashion and the wheelchair provider Beachwheels Australia.

Joanne Bruce of JoJo Noosa Fashion and John Whimpress of Laguna Jacks were only too happy to get behind the police initiative.

"Pierre just came around and said this is what I want to do," John said.

"I think we all know someone who is disabled - my Dad's had a stroke.

"So I didn't take much arm-twisting."

Joanne said: "It's just such a great cause and we obviously work at the beach."

Joanne said she has been told there used to be a beach wheelchair at Noosa years ago.

"So I think it's nice to bring it back."

Sen Const Senekal said the wheelchair will be housed at the lifesaving clubhouse.

"They will obviously assist if anyone needs any assistance to get down to the beach in the wheelchair," he said.

"They will be managing the use of it and keeping an eye on the people in the water.

Noosa Heads Surf Life Saving Club president Greg Cowie said lending a helping hand to those in need was what the whole lifesaving ethos was about.

"Our members are only too happy to help out," Greg said.

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