Sponsorship sees improved wheelchair access at Gairloch’s ‘Sitooterie’

Russell Francis enjoying the Sitooterie with Jean and Jim Brown
Russell Francis enjoying the Sitooterie with Jean and Jim Brown

A Wester Ross community garden now has improved access for wheelchair users thanks to a local building firm.

Gairloch’s Wildlife Observation Garden, popularly known as the Sitooterie, has had the gravelled access to four of its six seating areas paved after Poolewe building firm MacLeod and Mitchell stepped into help, having heard of the difficulties faced by many wheelchair users in manoeuvering on the gravel surface.

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, “and thank you so much to those who thought of us and provided this lovely easy access to such a beautiful garden.”

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.”

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

Willie Mitchell of MacLeod and Mitchell said he was delighted to sponsor the popular community venture, commenting: “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.”