Published: 19/04/2017 06:00 - Updated: 12/04/2017 05:57

Wester Ross wildlife garden is wheely great after revamp

Written byHector MacKenzie

Russell Francis, accompanied by friends and carers Jim and Jean Brown, gives the garden area the thumbs-up
Russell Francis, accompanied by friends and carers Jim and Jean Brown, gives the garden area the thumbs-up

A TRANSFORMED Wester Ross wasteland popular with locals and visitors alike has been made wheelchair friendly thanks to the big-hearted response of a local business.

The Wildlife Observation Garden, popularly known as the Sitooterie, in Pier Road, Gairloch has had the gravelled access to four of its six seating areas paved thanks to the sponsorship of a local building contractor.

Hearing of difficulties faced by many wheelchair users in manoeuvring on the gravel surface, Poolewe building firm MacLeod & Mitchell stepped in with an offer to support the upgrade of access to the garden.

First on the scene to check out the improvements was Russell Francis (37), a Mellon Charles resident who suffers from a form of Cerebral Palsy, accompanied by friends and carers Jim and Jean Brown.

“It’s great, so much easier than the last visit” said Russell. “Thank you so much to those who thought of us and provided this lovely easy access to such a beautiful garden.”

The garden has become a popular attraction with locals and visitors since its transformation
The garden has become a popular attraction with locals and visitors since its transformation

Russell’s carers were equally enthusiastic about the new development. “Last year we enjoyed bringing Russell to the Sitooterie, but it was hard work negotiating his wheelchair on the gravel surface”, said Jean. “But the newly paved areas are a dream to negotiate a wheelchair on, we are so delighted with the improvement.”

One of the garden’s co-ordinators, David Carruthers said how pleased he was with the sponsorship. “Wheelchair access has always been on our wishlist,” he said. “But we lived in hope of finding the generosity of a local sponsor, and now this has happened!”

Willie Mitchell of MacLeod & Mitchell said he was delighted to support the popular community venture. He said: “This is a great initiative enjoyed by locals and visitors to the area and we are very pleased to provide this facility for wheelchair users.”

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