A 'HEART-WARMING' project to ensure everyone can enjoy a popular west Dorset beach will launch this month.

The wheelchair scheme at West Bay will get going on Friday, March 31, at noon as part of a campaign to make the seaside accessible for all.

The event is being organised by Elaine Leader, who has led the initiative, which has seen beach matting laid to ensure wheelchair users can enjoy the beach.

Ms Leader has worked with Bridport Town Council, Dorset Council and Parkdean Resorts, which runs nearby West Bay Holiday Park, to get the scheme going. 

"It will be lovely to see this project finally up and running," she said.

"By March 31, Bridport Town Council will have laid down the beach matting, which is being managed by West Bay Harbour Master James Radcliffe and his team, and we’ll have different types of wheelchairs for people to see and try out.

"Everyone is welcome to come along and see it for themselves. It’s going to make such a difference to so many people with disabilities and restricted mobility who previously have not been able to access the beach and sea at West Bay."

Mayor of Bridport, Cllr Ian Bark, added: "I’m hugely impressed by the energy and effort Elaine and other volunteers have put into making this wonderful initiative happen. 

"We saw last year how much the beach matting was appreciated – for some, this was a first opportunity ever to go onto the beach – and the wheelchairs will give people the freedom to venture off the matting, even into the sea. 

"It’s truly heart-warming and we at the town council are proud to have been a part of it."

Parkdean will facilitate free hire of the wheelchairs and will be putting in a changing facility toilet at the West Bay Holiday Park, while another will be installed by the town council at West Bay Road car park.

Eachwill have a toilet, an adult changing bed, shower and a hoist and will offer a crucial but basic need for people with complex disabilities so they can enjoy a day at the beach instead of having to go home when they need to use the facilities.

There will also be a wheelchair that can float in the sea and can be used in conjunction with a qualified swimming coach so that carers do not necessarily need to be in the water.

There will also be a special platform for people who need a specific wheelchair and cannot transfer to one of the beach ones to enjoy the beach and the sea. This is being funded by West Dorset Mencap.

Further funding for the scheme has come from individual donations through Crowdfunder, Bridport Round Table and the Magna Housing Association.