1231. Alison Brown
Alison Brown, from East Lothian, is the founder of ‘Beach Wheelchairs’ which provides beach-accessible wheelchairs for free, helping nearly 500 people to access the beautiful Scottish coastline over the past four years.
Alison was inspired to set up the charity with her friend, Jackie Tagg, as both her son, and Jackie’s brother and mum, could not access their local beach due to disabilities. Unlike standard wheelchairs, their beach wheelchairs have large rubber wheels that can move easily over the sand, allowing children and adults with disabilities to enjoy time on the coast. In 2017, the charity opened a new centre in Portobello and last spring an additional one in Seton Beach, in collaboration with Haven Seton Sands, East Lothian Council and local residents.
In a personal letter to Alison, Prime Minister Theresa May said:
“With the ‘Beach Wheelchair Project’ you are making your local beaches accessible to all, enabling disabled children and adults to enjoy the beautiful Scottish coastline.”
Martin Whitfield, Alison’s local MP for East Lothian, said:
“I’m delighted that Alison is receiving this recognition for her outstanding work to establish and run the pioneering Beach Wheelchairs in North Berwick. It’s a wonderful local charity and Alison fully deserves this very special award for her dedication to making it such a huge success.”
“I’m really delighted to be given this award for recognition of the work of Beach Wheelchairs.
“Beach Wheelchairs is a charity run primarily by volunteers. Volunteers dedicated to enabling people with disabilities to get onto the sand at the beach, through the free rental of specialist beach wheelchairs.
“Since we started operating four years ago we’ve helped hundreds of people to enjoy time on the beach with friends, family, classmates and loved ones. Sometimes this is the first time people have experienced the pleasure of being right down next to the sea. Getting onto the beach is one of life’s great, simple pleasures and can bring such joy to both the wheelchair user and their carers.
“Beach Wheelchairs is a Point of Light in North Berwick, Portobello and Seton Sands where it currently operates. We are a source of pride in the communities that we work in – enabling them to become welcoming and inclusive.
“Beach Wheelchairs is a massive team effort. Without the countless hours put in behind the scenes and in the day to day operations this project wouldn’t be the massive success it is. This award recognises the work of everyone in the team.”