Sunday, 21 April 2024
Sunday, 21 April 2024

Disability charity sets sail for Scotland in fundraising drive

A ground-breaking seafaring charity that gives disabled people of all ages and impairments the chance to access the water is sailing to Scotland next week as it steps up its fundraising drive to establish its first permanent base north of the border in the Spring of 2022.   

Wetwheels, founded by disabled yachtsman Geoff Holt MBE in 2011 and of which HRH The Princess Royal is Patron, will moor one of its specially built, fully accessible powerboats at Port Edgar Marina on the Firth of Forth between 20-23 May.

The charity is using its visit as part of a wider fundraising drive to help raise £250,000 to establish an operator base at Port Edgar Marina with the necessary manpower and equipment and subsequently hopes to also run a west coast operation at Largs on the Firth of Clyde.

Invited disability groups, potential donors and members of the press will have the opportunity at Port Edgar Marina to experience Wetwheels Yorkshire, one of the 9-metre boats powered by twin 325HP engines that are designed to maximise active participation on the water in a safe, stimulating and rewarding way.  With full barrier-free access, up to ten participants, including three wheelchair users, can board and steer the vessel and learn seamanship alongside their peers, friends, and families.

By sailing to Scotland, the charity hopes the public and private donors will be inspired to help raise the further 75% of funding still required to ensure Port Edgar Watersports can successfully operate the first Wetwheels Scotland vessel on behalf of the Wetwheels Foundation. The charity, which already has six vessels in operation throughout England, including in Portsmouth, Falmouth, Jersey and Whitby, has a vision for at least 12,000 people, including over 1,000 in Scotland, to annually experience one of its seafaring experiences.

Holt, who was paralysed in a swimming accident in 1984 and who in 2007 became the first disabled person to sail single-handed around Great Britain, explained:

“Disabled people face many obstacles to an active lifestyle and particularly in experiencing the sense of freedom and independence you only get on the water. Yet, the physical and mental benefits of being on the sea are immense, so I am really excited to be coming up to Port Edgar Marina in Scotland to raise awareness of our Wetwheels and showcase the amazing work we do.

“Wetwheels is unique. There is no other boating organisation for disabled people in the UK doing what Wetwheels does. That’s a very big claim, but as a wheelchair-using yachtsman and adventurer myself, I speak from experience. Our own research tells us that more than 80% of Wetwheels’ participants have never previously been on the open water. For an island nation, that’s a shocking statistic we are determined to change.

“After a decade of successful growth in England, we now aim to successfully raise £250,000 to establish our first operation at the fantastic Port Edgar Marina in Scotland, where Wetwheels can continue its mission to positively impact on the health and wellbeing of participants for many years to come.”

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