It’s good to see help was at hand when needed

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STEVE CANAVAN: The case of the 'kitchen' door is open and shut

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It really must have been a feeling of so close yet so far for grandmother Susan Hay. Cruelly hit by cancer, she found the resultant effect on her mobility threatened a huge joy in her life – looking out to sea.

For the past 16 years she has enjoyed that simple pleasure from her beach hut at Hayling Island.

But having to use a wheeled walker proved impossible on the pebbles – and the short 20-yard walk from firm ground to her hut suddenly became an impossible journey.

Some may have given up, accepting that regular trips to a favourite spot would have to become a thing of the past because of a change in circumstance.

But not so Susan. She has shown grit and determination in fighting for an alternative means to get across the stones.

And to be fair, Havant Borough Council and Natural England have come up trumps in enabling her to achieve her wish.

For although the solution to the problem was in itself simple – a wooden boardwalk placed on top of the stones would mean Susan could again reach her hut without too much difficulty – there were obstacles to overcome.

Not least of these was the beach’s status as a Site of Special Scientific Interest.

Such designation is not given lightly and, when it is, it necessarily comes with a host of safeguards about anything being changed, added or taken away in the protected area.

So it was necessary for proper consideration to be given to the effect on flora and fauna, even from a simple boardwalk.

That appraisal has been carried out as swiftly as possible – in a matter of weeks rather than the two years Susan feared – and now the council is promising equally swift action in ripping up a little-used section of boardwalk and relaying it to enable Susan to reach her hut.

It’s a good example of public authorities recognising the particular needs of an individual and seeking to find a way of satisfying them.

Susan is understandably delighted and says all she wants now is some guaranteed sunshine. She deserves nothing less.