Accessible Boating Thames
Providing a platform for all forms of water sport, focused on Accessibility.
In 2014 founders Pat and Simon Davis realised that a next step was needed to allow less able people to have ‘hands-on’ experience in various watercrafts and so a partnership with Bisham Abbey Sailing & Navigation School (BASNS) was created.
After some years, a separate charity – Accessible Boating Thames – was created to focus on accessibility for people with various abilities.
Initially ‘Rivertime 2’, a specially designed Wheelyboat was purchased to allow wheelchair users to easily access a powerboat and take the helm. Two bell boats were then acquired, (along with a powered safety boat) and two weeks of sailing school time per annum was designated for groups of SEND School children (two groups each day) to experience time in catamarans, in company with their carers (when appropriate).
Shore- side support during these weeks is provided by volunteers from the local community. A specially adapted hoist allows transfer from a wheelchair into the boat.
The operation was extended in 2017 to allow disabled people to attend Bisham Abbey on Sundays when the Wheelyboat is available along with a number of sailing dinghies; and with the support of volunteer coaches, safety boat etc.
To enable people of varous abilities to enjoy weekly meetings, or specific sessions, facilitated by fully trained and certified personnel in accordance with the mission, vision and values of Accessible Boating Thames including:
- The provision of 3 bell boats for disabled young people from SEND Schools and other disability charities to enjoy paddling sessions and similar uses
- The provision of a wheelyboat for people in wheelchairs and for the specific purpose of training and use by disabled young people and their families
- The provision of sailing dinghies for disabled people to enjoy the experience of sailing
- A winch to allow access from a wheelchair for the seiously immobile
- The provision of volunteer helpers for the various requirements (safety boat and sailing instruction etc.) to enable less able wheelchair users, sometimes with a carer or a family member, to use the crafts according to their needs
- The provision of a safety boat to support the operations
An opportunity for people of various abilities to enjoy boating experiences with others on a regular basis:
- Every year 350 young people with disabilities enjoy group bell boating (1,400 over the last 4 years)
- A growing number of individuals enjoy Sunday club meetings
- Wheelchair users enjoy independent helming of a Wheelyboat and personal freedom on the river.