Three Cookstown venues win top awards for diasabled access

Three Cookstown organisations were amongst 20 from across Northern Ireland to be awarded for their ‘disability friendly’ facilities at a recent awards ceremony.

The Burnavon Arts Centre, Cookstown Leisure Centre’s new fitness suite and Supervalu, which also contains Cookstown Post Office, were all handed certificates from the William Keown Trust [WKT] at the annual Prestige Access Awards event, held in Omagh’s Silverbirch Hotel.

The William Keown Trust was first founded over 35 years ago by Cerebral Palsy sufferer Bill Keown “as a proactive and authoritative voice for people with disabilities”.

Concerned at poor standards of access for disabled people in buildings across the province, WKT set up the Access Awards, and in recent years has undertaken access audits for a number of establishments.

The awards are held every year in an effort to recognise organisations that have worked towards making their buildings accessible for everyone in the community.

The Burnavon was awarded a WKT Prestige Access Award, after recommendations to enlarge the facility’s disability toilet were carried out, while Cookstown District Council was commended on the Leisure Centre’s recently refurbished Health & Fitness Suite.

The Trust said the new fitness suite is well equipped with a sauna, steam room, spa pool and equipment to facilitate customers with disabilities, together with direct support from attendant staff when required.

“Customers with disabilities are included in the 25,000 people who make use of the centre’s facilities per month and this fact must further underpin encouragement and satisfaction for Cookstown District Council in the provision of such excellent facilities within the site,” said a WKT spokesman.

Supervalu in Cookstown was awarded for: “The provision of a disability toilet... one automatic door, [and] a level access and wide aisles.”

Whilst also being commended for its “car park with disability bays [that] is conveniently located”.

Mr Keown, Chief Executive to the Trust, said the The Trust’s Access and Education Committee was pleased with the standard of accessibility at 20 sites, including three in Cookstown and two in Dungannon.

WKT can give independent advice on projects from the early stages right through to completion, and has the knowledge to get the best possible solution on any project.

With ‘DisabledGo’ recently stating that the lack of accessibility to shops and department stores, has prevented thousands of people with disabilities along with their families from spending around £2m in the festive season, the Trust is urging businesses and retailers to think of the bottom line and comply with the ‘1995 Disability Act’ when planning their facilities.