Newry To Benefit From First Fully Inclusive Beach

Cranfield beach in Newry has become the area's first fully inclusive beach.

Work carried out by the Mae Murray Foundation in partnership with Newry, Mourne & Down District Council has made Cranfield only the second beach in Northern Ireland that offers facilities to make it accessible for all ages and abilities.

The upgrades include beach wheelchairs, floating chairs and beach walkers.

A changing bench and hoisting equipment has also been made available through funding received from Sport Northern Ireland, the National Lottery and the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA).

Until now beaches in the area have been off limits for families of mixed abilities as there wasn't any appropriate equipment or facilities for those with additional needs. However, after a successful information and demonstration day on Cranfield beach, that's about to change as the free loan scheme comes into operation in May.

Alix Crawford, founder of the Mae Murray Foundation, whose daughter Talia has quadriplegic Cerebral Palsy, explained: "Following funding from Sport Northern Ireland and DAERA, we are delighted to have partnered with Newry, Mourne and Down District Council to announce Cranfield Beach as the first beach that is fully accessible for all ages and abilities in the area. Cranfield is one of just two beaches in Northern Ireland where we now offer these wonderful facilities.
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"There are many people, young and old, who have never felt sand running through their fingers or experienced the thrill of being in the sea, due to the inaccessibility of beaches. We have brought together the specialist mobility equipment along with the personal care equipment that many families need, and worked with council to develop processes to enable true participation.

"It's important to note that the loan scheme operates under advance booking conditions. We also have special temporary walkways which can be deployed upon request, given further notice, to offer even more mobility on the beach. Full details of equipment options, beach loan scheme schedules, advance booking requirements, Frequently Asked Questions and Terms and Conditions of Use can be found on our website."

Alix set up the Mae Murray Foundation as she doesn't believe families of those with additional needs should have to compromise. The charity was set up in memory of Alix's late mother, Mae Murray, whose estate provided the money required to establish the foundation.

Alix continued: "It is sad that, in this modern era, barriers to joining in still exist for so many people and their families. It is our vision to help create a society with true participation for all in leisure and social settings, regardless of age and ability.

"We are delighted to be working closely with Council and are indebted to both council staff and our funders at Sport Northern Ireland and DAERA for their enthusiasm and support of this much needed project."

The Chairperson, Councillor Mark Murnin of Newry, Mourne and Down District Council, said: "I am absolutely thrilled with Cranfield Beach becoming the first inclusive beach in our district. It has been a pleasure working with the Mae Murray Foundation for this worthy cause and I hope to see many families of mixed abilities fully enjoying this blue flag beach while making use of the free loan scheme."

Further information can be gained from visiting the Mae Murray Foundation website, accessible online.


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