Roger Sutton

Children with disabilities and their families enjoyed accessible boat trips, thanks to players of People’s Postcode Lottery.

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Damp weather definitely didn’t dampen the mood at Easter when children with a range of disabilities and complex needs went for trips out into the Solent on board a motorboat.  The children, all from the Isle of Wight, were able to enjoy this experience with their siblings, parents and grandparents, enabling whole families to have an exciting day out and make memories to treasure.

Cowes Sailability Club arranged three 90-minute family-friendly and accessible motorboat trips during the school Easter holidays, with funding from Postcode Society Trust, a grant-giving charity funded entirely by players of People’s Postcode Lottery.  

“We are very grateful to players of People’s Postcode Lottery for their support,” says Trish Rooke, Cowes Sailability Club’s Vice Commodore and Fundraising Officer.  “Many children on the Isle of Wight struggle to access fun activities due to learning disabilities like autism, physical disabilities or mental health challenges such as anxiety.  Cowes Sailability Club works closely with local schools and other groups to create opportunities for these young people to have new and exciting experiences in an environment that is accessible and welcoming.”

Rochelle Wilson went on one of the Easter trips with her mum, her daughter Isabella, aged 9, who has Down syndrome and her son Oliver, aged 7, who has VACTERL association, a condition resulting from multiple congenital anatomical malformations.  “Isabella and Oliver absolutely loved it—and mum and I loved it too, because it was so wonderful seeing them both so happy,” she says.  “We have been on several trips with Cowes Sailability Club in recent years, and Isabella and Oliver get so much from the experience.  The trips help teach them about safety and build their confidence by giving them the opportunity to helm the boat.”

She adds: “The volunteers from Cowes Sailability Club and the crew of the boat are very understanding and very patient with all the children who have disabilities.  Everyone has a great time.”   

Melonie Hopkins went on another of the trips with her two daughters, Teyla who is autistic, and Freya.  “It’s rare to find an activity that we can all take part in together,” she says.  “It was lovely to just relax and enjoy time together.  There were a lot of laughs, especially when all the children decided to do yoga poses in the middle of the river, and being able to take a turn at driving the boat was a huge hit with both girls.  The entire family benefits from trips like this, but especially Teyla.  She finds being out on the water very relaxing, and it always boosts her confidence that bit more.”

The Postcode Society Trust focuses on providing financial support for charities and good causes to help communities improve health and wellbeing, reduce isolation and undertake arts and physical recreation activities.

Laura Chow, head of charities at People’s Postcode Lottery, said: “I’m delighted that money raised by our players is supporting Cowes Sailability, and giving lots of families on the Isle of Wight the chance to have fun and make memories on the water – what a fantastic organisation!”

The trips took place on a wheelchair-accessible motorboat, chartered by Cowes Sailability Club and owned and operated by Wetwheels Hamble CIC.  Specially designed to cater for people with disabilities, Wetwheels Hamble can accommodate ten passengers, including up to three wheelchairs, on every excursion. 

Cowes Sailability Club has charted Wetwheels Hamble for additional dates and will be arranging further trips for children and adults with disabilities throughout the spring and summer months.  For more information, contact [email protected].