In 2018 and 2019 the charity worked with Tourism St Andrews in their campaign to raise funds for Beach Wheelchairs for the West Sands beach. This project has been hugely successful and we continue to support this project and other initiatives to continue to make the town more accessible. The chairs are also golf course friendly. This has become one of the key focus points for the charity ensuring our world class destination is open to all.
It was hugely important that the wheelchairs were available whenever possible and when risk assessments allowed during the pandemic to enable beach access and all to enjoy the wonderful and safe outdoor space of the West Sands beach. St Andrews Environmental Trust are now involved in. the delivery of the operations of the beach wheelchairs with an army of volunteers supporting.
2021 brings new challenges and we have been particularly focussed this year in the opening of the new Bruce Embankment toilets with the first changing places facility in St Andrews. Now open these are a huge benefit to the community and visitors to St Andrews improving the accessibility of our destination and home.
We are now in the process of securing funding for an accessible walkway and viewing platform adjacent to the Beach Wheelchair home on the West Sands and we will continue to fund and support another year of the beach wheelchairs being available. We secured planning for this in 2019 and the project has been delayed in starting due to covid. More than ever it is critical this project now goes ahead particularly as outdoor space is becoming increasingly the safe space and this must include those with accessible needs. The sea is proven to be a positive experience for all and those with disability should have as much right to enjoy the space as anyone else. Working closely with the St Andrews Links Trust and the Fife Coast and Countryside Trust we have gained approval for its installation obtaining all the approvals for installation in this environment of significant natural heritage.
Our current project is a Fully Accessible Viewing platform which will be located next to the Beach Wheel Chair Cabin on the West Sands. This viewing platform and beach access has been designed especially for those with limited mobility to be able to view and access the beach and the sea.
The charity is working with a number of funders to secure fundraising including Fife Environment Trust, Robertson Homes, Fife Council, local funders and private individuals. The cost of the project is estimated at £128,000.
It is hoped to start the work in January 2022 for completion by mid Summer, a fabulous addition to the towns facility during the year of the 150th Open. For our internationally reknowned destination to be leading the way on Open Access to All in this significant year would be a significant achievement and a lasting legacy.