Parent of disabled child forced to cancel trip to Fife town

Freya-Rose, right, met Gordon Brown during the opening of the Queensferry Crossing.
Freya-Rose, right, met Gordon Brown during the opening of the Queensferry Crossing.

The mother of a disabled child was forced to cancel a day out to St Andrews due to a lack of disabled facilities in the town.

Carolynne Hunter, from Stirling, had organised a day out for her eight-year-old daughter Freya-Rose, who has severe cerebral palsy and a complex airway, to St Andrews last month.

However, she had to cancel the visit because the town does not have a Changing Places facility.

The Changing Places toilets provide enough space for wheelchairs and carers, changing benches, hoists to help people out of wheelchairs, and much more.

“We were staying at Rachel House and thought it’s not that long a drive to St Andrews,” Ms Hunter explained. “I thought we could take her down to the beach and around the town. It would have been nice.

“Then one of the nurses asked if it had a Changing Places facility. I just assumed there would be one.

“I was so surprised and shocked that it does not have one. It meant we could not go on the day out. It was a huge disappointment that I could not take her. I felt, once again, that she could be included in society.”

Ms Hunter’s story follows an appeal from the father of another disabled child last week, for a Changing Places toilet to be installed in the town.

Ms Hunter said such a facility is an “absolute necessity” as it would give her a place to take Freya out of her chair, so she can rest and have her airway checked.

“My dream would be to have Freya on the beach,” she said. “It’s sad that it is a dream. In reality parents take their kids to the beach every day. I want to know why such a beautiful place does not have a Changing Places?”

Debbie McCallum, chair of Tourism St Andrews, said: “We are working with Fife Council to get a Changing Places facility installed with the upgrading of the Bruce Embankment public toilets. We hope this will be conducted in a timely fashion in order that the facilities will be made available so Freya can enjoy St Andrews along with many others who are unable to enjoy our amazing town currently due to lack of appropriate facilities.”

Janice Laird, community manager north east Fife, Fife Council, said: “We have commissioned feasibility works to consider locating Changing Places facilities in St Andrews. Although there are accessible toilets for disabled access within the town we recognise there is also a need for a Changing Places unit in the area.”