Accessible inclusive beach for Groomsport

Thursday 7th February 2019

Ards and North Down Borough Council is delighted to announce that funding of over £68,000 has been secured to enable works to commence for the provision of an accessible inclusive beach in Groomsport, Co. Down.

Jayne Moore Capital Sports Development Officer, Sport NI; Alix Crawford, Chairperson for the Mae Murray Foundation; Mayor of Ards Down, Councillor Richard Smart, visit Groomsport beach

Few coastal villages in Ireland can compare with Groomsport for scenic charm, tranquil beauty and historical heritage. While Groomsport is best known for its picturesque harbour that was once a major fishing port and its two fishermens cottages known as Cockle Row, the beach is also a popular spot for tourists and locals alike.

Now, thanks to discussions which took place as part of the community planning process (The Big Plan), funding to the value of £68,314 has been secured to make Groomsport the first wheelchair accessible beach in Ards and North Down.

The funding which has been secured from Sport NI, will be used to regrade the access slope on to the beach, making it a gentler slope than currently stands and to significantly upgrade the existing toilet block. The toilet block will include a ‘Changing Places’ toilet facility which will allow people with disabilities, in particular, those with higher levels of personal care needs to access hoisting and height adjustable bench facilities. There will also be a storage area to house beach friendly wheelchairs and rollators.

Jayne Moore, Capital Sports Development Officer, Sport NI said; “Sport NI is delighted to be funding this project which was identified as a result of Ards and North Down Borough Council’s Community Planning process. The project will provide access from the public car park to upgraded changing and toilet facilities. We look forward to seeing these new facilities help more people in the Ards and North Down area get active, get involved and engage in both structured physical activities and events, as well as enjoy days out with their families or carers.”

Mayor of Ards Down, Councillor Richard Smart said, “An accessible inclusive beach for Groomsport is excellent news. When the Big Plan was being developed people told us they wanted more opportunities to access the environment, and that these opportunities should be inclusive for everyone. This project will help support those asks. As well as improving physical health, access to the environment also contributes to positive mental health and wellbeing.”

Ards and North Down Borough Council and Sport NI have been working alongside the Mae Murray Foundation to develop this project and will be agreeing operating procedures over the coming weeks.  

Alix Crawford, chairperson for the Mae Murray foundation said “We are delighted to see progress towards our first ‘Mae Murray Foundation Inclusive Beach’ in the Ards and North Down Borough Council area.  Sincere thanks to SportNI and to the Council for enthusiastically backing this project and to the community of Groomsport for embracing this initiative. We look forward to working together to create real change and increase participation for people of all ages and abilities.”