Beach wheelchairs available for hire

Published: 25 August 2022

The beach should be for everyone, but tell that to someone in a wheelchair. Pushing a standard one through the sand is incredibly difficult - even with a helping hand.

Now a project involving the Isle of Wight Council, Sandown Town Council and Sandown Beach Lifeguards has seen the introduction of beach-friendly wheelchairs at Sandown's Blue Flag beach.

The two chairs have four low-pressure balloon tyres to make it easy to navigate on the sand and comfortable to ride. They are appropriate for all ages, including children, and adjustable to meet different people’s posture needs.

The wheelchairs are available for hire from Dinosaur Isle on Culver Parade and the beach lifeguard station at Eastern Gardens and all they cost is a £20-a-day returnable deposit.

They are available on a first come first serviced basis. 

Councillor Jonathan Bacon, Cabinet member for beaches, said: "The beach should be for everyone, but tell that to someone in a wheelchair. Pushing a standard one through the sand simply won't work.

"These new wheelchairs are already making a big difference for a lot of families who haven't previously been able to go out and fully enjoy the beach together.

"The wheelchairs are funded by the Isle of Wight Council however we very much appreciate the support and partnership of Sandown Town Council, Sandown Beach Lifeguards and the team at Dinosaur Isle who look after and rent them out."

The beach wheelchairs are designed to be used on soft terrain where ordinary wheelchairs would sink into the surface. This makes them ideal for the beach, and enable users to not only access the beach but also go into the water.

The council is looking to expand the scheme next year.

Sandown mayor, Councillor Paddy Lightfoot, said: "Thanks to Danielle Wharton from the Isle of Wight Council and the lifeguard team for the provision of accessible wheelchairs.

"They will provide access on and off our Blue Flag beach, reflecting the commitment of the town council to improve and enhance seaside amenities for residents and visitors, as well as working with concessionaires to develop accessibility for all."

Todd Miller, of Sandown Beach Lifeguards, added: "We are pleased to be able to help Sandown Town Council and the Isle of Wight Council with the loaning out of its accessible wheelchair during the summer months.

"Hopefully this will enable more people to be able to enjoy our beautiful beach at Sandown."