14 March 2024

Lynette's wish to visit the beach made possible thanks to council's new wheels

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Woman in a wheelchair on a beach.

Wollongong lifeguard Brendan Smith helps Lynette Field enjoy the beach for the first time in 40 years. Photo: Wollongong City Council.

On paper it’s a simple wish – to visit the beach and enjoy the experience of sand and surf.

But for Woonona’s Lynette Field, being able to dip her toes in the ocean is anything but simple.

As a longtime aged care resident with limited mobility, a visit to the beach wasn’t possible.

However, thanks to Wollongong City Council lifeguards and staff from Anglicare Eileen Armstrong House in Woonona, Lynette was able to tick an item off her bucket list and enjoy the sun and surf at Thirroul Beach for the first time in about 40 years.

Council has been working on making some of its beaches more accessible, including free beach wheelchairs which can be booked for use during patrol hours.

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Eileen Armstrong House Lifestyle Coordinator Ruth Hartill-Law was the mastermind behind Lynette’s beach visit.

“We ask each resident if they have a wish they’d like to fulfil and we’ll try to make it happen,” she said.

“With the help of Wollongong City Council and this amazing lady Lynette, we were able to give her an experience she hasn’t had in a long time.

“I’d just like to thank the council for making these facilities available. Now that we’ve got these amazing ramps that people can walk on, nothing is going to get in the way of Lynette living her best life.

“I want to let other people who live in residential care homes know about these facilities. Life is meant to be lived and if we can get more people from nursing homes down here to experience our beautiful waters, why not.”

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Council’s Acting Operations Manager Beach Services Murray Copas said the availability of beach wheelchairs added to the work council had been doing to make beaches accessible for more people.

“That includes gradually upgrading toilets with accessible facilities, installing and maintaining pathways, providing accessible parking and offering beach matting at some of our beaches,” he said.

“We have some of the best beaches in the Illawarra. We want to make sure everyone can enjoy our coastal areas, and it’s a real positive when we’re able to support community members to make use of this new accessible service.”

Wollongong has four accessible beaches, at Austinmer, North Wollongong, Port Kembla and Thirroul. For more details on each beach’s accessible features, or to book a free beach wheelchair, click here or phone council’s customer service team on 4227 7111.

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