The improved slipway at Westward Ho! was officially opened on Wednesday (August 12).

Ricky Smith can finally access Westward Ho! beach via the slipway thanks to the improvements. Picture: TDCRicky Smith can finally access Westward Ho! beach via the slipway thanks to the improvements. Picture: TDC

A ribbon-cutting ceremony was carried out on the slipway amid scorching sunshine on a day where huge numbers visited the Blue Flag beach.

Doing the honours were Torridge District Council chairman, Councillor David Brenton, and local wheelchair user Ricky Smith, who can finally access the beach with ease thanks to the new extension.

Ricky’s mum Libby said: “Ricky comes down here all the time, but usually we would have to go on the burrows, or just stay on the slipway.

“Now the beach is going to be one of his favourite places to be.”

Ricky Smith was given a commemorative trophy for opening the improved slipway. Picture: TDCRicky Smith was given a commemorative trophy for opening the improved slipway. Picture: TDC

Ricky was also given a commemorative trophy by local ward member Cllr Claire Hodson, who took part in the ceremony along with fellow ward member Cllr Nick Laws, mayor of Northam David Chalmers, and the council’s lead member for leisure, Cllr Cheryl Cottle-Hunkin.

Torridge councillors and officers were also in attendance, as was Torridge MP Geoffrey Cox, who said: “Having convened a series of meetings to discuss and promote a solution to the lack of access to Westward Ho! beach particularly for the disabled, the elderly and families with very young children, I am delighted to see those discussions now bear fruit.

“The reconstruction of the slipway will provide an easy way down onto the beach for many years to come.

“This is a concrete example of what can be achieved when we all, MP, local councillors and statutory agencies work together with the public to solve an obvious problem.”

The slipway has been anchored below the sand, into the clay level of the beach. The new structure has also been given more protection from storms and waves with new rock armour – large boulders brought in from Clarence Wharf Car Park in Bideford.

The works cost £38,000, which was sourced from existing budgets as well as North Devon Coast Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) Sustainable Development Fund.

Jenny Carey-Wood, AONB Manager said: “We were delighted to support this slipway improvement, addressing a key priority this year to improve physical access to the AONB for local people and visitors.

“Westward Ho! beach and the Burrows offer a great opportunity to improve our wellbeing with the stunning views along the coast, beach based recreation and a chance to discover its fascinating nature and heritage.”