Roger Sutton

40 people affected by multiple sclerosis enjoyed trips funded by Eight Foundation grant

Roger Sutton

A group from the Isle of Wight Multiple Sclerosis Society departing on a boat trip organised by Cowes Sailability Club

A grant from the Eight Foundation enabled Cowes Sailability Club to offer opportunities for 150 people with disabilities to enjoy exhilarating boat trips in 2023.  Those who benefited from this funding include over 40 people affected by the debilitating condition multiple sclerosis.  Four trips were organised in conjunction with the Isle of Wight Multiple Sclerosis Society, each accommodating ten people, including wheelchair users. 

“The boat trips organised by Cowes Sailability Club were the highlight of the summer for many of our members!” says Sue Smith, Finance Volunteer at the Isle of Wight Multiple Sclerosis Society.  “People with multiple sclerosis often feel very isolated and there are few exciting activities that they can engage in due to their disabilities.  Here on the Isle of Wight, it is amazing to be able to offer people, especially those with limited mobility, the chance to go out on a small boat trip and see the island from the sea.”

Multiple sclerosis affects not only the people who have this debilitating disease, but also their wives, husbands or partners and wider families.  One of the great things about Cowes Sailability Club is that it allows a family member, friend or carer to accompany people with the condition on trips.  In this way, participants can share their experiences with someone and talk about it together afterwards, extending the pleasure that they gain. 

“Cowes Sailability Club’s trips provide people with multiple sclerosis with something to look forward to and then, afterwards, something very positive and exciting to recall and talk about with their friends and families,” Sue explains.  “One of our members who very rarely speaks and is almost non-verbal, when out on a boat trip began communicating again and was desperate to express the feelings of excitement.  This really demonstrates just how incredibly important and beneficial these boat trips are.”

Cowes Sailability Club was able to fund the trips for the Isle of Wight Multiple Sclerosis Society and other local support groups, thanks to a £2,000 grant from the Eight Foundation, a charitable trust that is committed to making real differences in people’s lives.  Founded in 2017, it makes financial grants to causes relating to health, poverty and education.    

Trish Rooke, Fundraising Officer for Cowes Sailability Club says: “I would like to say a huge thank you to the trustees of the Eight Foundation for their incredible support.  It has been fantastic to be able to offer many more motorboating trips for people with disabilities than in previous years.  Lots of local groups including the Isle of Wight Multiple Sclerosis Society have really benefited from the experience of going on the water.”

Victoria Riggs from the Eight Foundation says: “What an absolute pleasure it is for us to provide vital assistance to this wonderful organisation and the members of this community. We are committed to making real changes and this particular grant really does showcase this.  We can’t wait to come and visit and sail with you all soon!”

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.