A rail delight for disabled children

This Is Wiltshire: With the new coach are, from left, Ken Parker (black cap), Derek Linford (driver), Graham Stubbs, David Bound, Lewis Ashbolt, Chris Vaughan, Dave Jenner, Allan Wells With the new coach are, from left, Ken Parker (black cap), Derek Linford (driver), Graham Stubbs, David Bound, Lewis Ashbolt, Chris Vaughan, Dave Jenner, Allan Wells

A BRAND new coach custom- designed to meet the needs of disabled children was unveiled yesterday to the delight of little ones at Coate Water Miniature Railway.

Following a four-year campaign led by the North Wilts Model Engineering Society, which runs the local attraction, to secure the £5,000 necessary for the specially commissioned carriage, Swindon mayor Teresa Page officially inaugurated the wheelchair-friendly train.

The club launched a fundraising appeal in 2010 after a visit from Brimble Hill School pupils. While many of the children enjoyed rides, their wheelchair-bound classmates were unable to join in the fun.

Unveiling the train, Coun Page said: “It’s great that young people and older people can come here regardless of their abilities and ride a train.

“Now everybody is equal when they come here.

“I am absolutely delighted to open something new like this in our own town. And I am hoping to come back when Brimble Hill come here.”

The coach was ordered in 2013 and had been used on and off since last December for training. A special coach house had to be designed for the new train.

Each of the carriage’s sides fold down, allowing chairs to be wheeled straight in.

Hilary Foley, North Wilts Model Engineering Society secretary, added: “We were able to do it through fundraising and it was a good cause. We were pleased to unveil it.

“We finally got the coach last year and we’ve been checking it out and trying it to make sure it was okay.

“It all started about four years ago when Brimble Hill School came and two or three of them were in very big wheelchairs and there was no way we could get them on the trains. “You could see how disappointed they were.

“They will be back in July now so it will be nice for them.”

To find out more about Coate Water Miniature Railway, visit http://northwiltsmes.wix.com/ coate-water-railway

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