Going up: Richmond River Historical Society secretary Geoff Foley and president Bernie Childs are pleased with Lismore City Council’s decision to install a lift in the building.
Going up: Richmond River Historical Society secretary Geoff Foley and president Bernie Childs are pleased with Lismore City Council’s decision to install a lift in the building. Cathy Adams

Disabled man's two storey climb

STAFF and volunteers at the Richmond River Historical Society (RRHS) were left embarrassed and helpless after a disabled man had to lift himself up two flights of stairs because there was no lift.

However, the incident looks to be the first and last of its kind after the Lismore City Council made a long-awaited decision to build a lift in the society's building.

A Gold Coast man in a wheelchair visited the historical society in Woodlark Street, Lismore, recently to work in the society's research rooms, which are located on the second level of the building.

The man was not deterred by the lack of disabled-friendly facilities in the building; climbing out of his wheelchair and lifting himself up 26 steps to the second level of the building.

RRHS volunteer Marlene Lester stood by feeling helpless as she witnessed the small triumph.

“This lack of a lift meant the gentleman was forced to get out of his chair at the bottom of the stairs leading to our rooms and heave himself backwards up the steps, one at a time, while his wife held his legs. At the top of the stairs he manoeuvred himself back into his wheelchair,” she said.

“I have worked as a volunteer in various ways in the many towns I have lived in over the years and never have I felt the frustration of such a situation.

“It's bad enough that we are losing volunteers as ageing limbs prevent them climbing the stairs to carry on the work they have enjoyed doing for years, and who have worked on lamington drives to keep our doors open, but we are also discriminating against others.”

The man, who is a paraplegic, was at the RRHS to research the life of a former Lismore man who returned from World War II as a paraplegic.

The RRHS museum is also upstairs, proving a problem to elderly and disabled visitors.

The RRHS have been lobbying Lismore City Council to install a lift in the building for 10 years, and at a recent council meeting their pleas were answered.

“Council has agreed to put the lift in as part of its four-year delivery plan and the lift has been approved for 2012/2013,” RRHS secretary Geoff Foley said.

“We rely on retired volunteers and not having a lift reduces our recruitment and retention of volunteers. It is getting an effort for some to get up the stairs.

“We have had people travelling quite a distance to visit our facilities and when we say it's up the stairs it's a big turn-off.”



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