Monday, 20 September 2021
A MOTORISED “rising bench” has been installed at a public convenience in Henley so disabled visitors can be changed more easily.
The £4,500 device is attached to the wall of the disabled lavatory at the Leichlingen Pavilion in Mill Meadows and is hinged so it can be stored away when not in use.
Carers for disabled people can pull it out then use a handset to raise or lower it, allowing them to work at a height that is comfortable for them.
Henley Town Council, which owns the toilets, wanted to install the bench as part of a £100,000 refurbishment which was completed in 2014 but did not have the money. It has instead been funded by the Rotary Club of Henley Bridge and Rotary UK’s Thames Valley district office. A plaque will be installed to thank the club.
The bench was provided by Kilncraft, of Sheffield, based on the estimate that it provided three years ago.
It was officially unveiled on Friday by Mayor Kellie Hinton with town councillors Sam Evans and Stefan Gawrysiak, former councillor Jeni Wood, who originally came up with the idea, and Mike Pooley, chairman of the Henley Regatta for the Disabled.
Councillor Gawrysiak and Mrs Wood are members of the Rotary club. Mrs Wood said: “Before this was installed, people had to be changed on the floor which isn’t particularly dignified. This is the only public bench of its kind for at least 50 miles so hopefully it will make Henley more accessible to visitors and encourage other towns to follow suit.”
Cllr Gawrysiak said: “This is a fabulous example of how Rotary works in the community. Where we see a need, we will do everything we can to meet it and we’re very grateful to everyone who supported us.”
The Mayor said: “This is going to be well-used and will save a lot of people’s time and energy so we’re very thankful to Rotary and to the council’s parks services team who will maintain it.” Jane Holmes, founder of Henley Regatta for the Disabled, who has a 15-year-old disabled daughter, Kitty, said: “It is absolutely great that this facility has been provided in Henley and I applaud Jeni Wood for making it happen.
“Toileting provision is something that people take for granted, and rightly so, but of course there are disabled residents and visitors who need extra special facilities. These are sometimes provided at special events but it’s the everyday need that often isn’t considered.
“Now people with all levels of disability can enjoy a day out in Henley without having to go home after a couple of hours to have their care needs met. I very much hope that other towns follow Henley’s example.”
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