DISABLED access to Strabane riverbank has been made much easier thanks to the Herculean efforts of a dedicated group of individuals.
Members of the Three Rivers Search and Rescue undertook the task to make the disabled ramp, overgrown with grass, weeds and dirt, fit for purpose so that disabled individuals could easily access the waterway through the town.
Jason O’Neill, a member of Three Rivers Search and Rescue explained, “The reason the whole thing came about was because of our Friday night training. The group patrols the riverbank every Friday and one night about three months ago, our group commander Paul Devine looked at the state of the ramp, saw there was a need and said ‘You know what, we can do something about that’.
“The ramp was in a terrible state when we began the work and there was no way anyone in a wheelchair or with a pushchair could have safely gotten down there, but we were determined to put it right. At first, we didn’t think it would be such a huge undertaking, but we soon found out just how big the job actually was,” Jason explained.
It wasn’t long before the group began clearing the pathway.
Working when they could, members of the team toiled away clearing away soil and debris, giving up their weekends and evenings where possible. An estimated three tonnes of soil were removed from the site and in a mere three weeks the pathway became useable once more.
“The team worked tirelessly to make this a possibility and in all it took 180 man hours and just around three weeks to complete the job,” Jason continued.
“This was all done on a voluntary basis using our own implements, with every member doing their bit to make it a reality. We even had volunteers come from Derry to lend a hand.”
The first person to make use of the cleared pathway was Derry man Brian Kelly, who brought along his rod for an afternoon of fishing.
Jason says proudly of the finished product, “It looks absolutely wonderful and everyone in the Three Rivers Search and Rescue is immensely proud at what we have achieved. It was hard, back-breaking work but worth it. The disabled are often forgotten about when it comes to access, and it meant so much that we could make this happen. Our walkways in Strabane are for all the community, not just for some.”