Cotswold Boatmobility promises access for all
A boat that will enable people with special needs to take to the water was launched on the Stroudwater Navigation at Ebley Wharf, Stroud on Wednesday 28th October.
Caring canal enthusiasts
Cotswold Boatmobility, a group of local canal enthusiasts, named its first KataKanu boat Myrtille as it was paddled through Ebley flood gates at noon.
Catamaran & Canoe
A KataKanu, as the name suggests, is an amalgamation of the best elements of a catamaran and a canoe. This ingeniously designed boat allows just two of its six occupants to paddle the craft.
Origin of the name Myrtille
The group was set up a year ago by retired teacher Jan Thomas, with the aim of fundraising up to £50,000 for specialist vessels. Jan, who now chairs the group, was inspired to set up Cotswold Boatmobility a year ago because she is a keen boater and the mother of an adult son with learning difficulties.
Jan explains… “We were very lucky as the boat was presented to us by an anonymous donor. We are very grateful as it enables the group to help all sorts of people; not just wheelchair users but elderly people too.
"In fact anyone who might need support to paddle down the canal, view the wildlife and perhaps even paint water-colour pictures from a boat. We hope to acquire two more KataKanus to join Myrtille."
Cotswold Boatmobility also hopes to fund an electrically powered Wheelyboat MkIII.
This purpose built aluminium craft is designed for wheelchair users to board the vessel via a dropdown ramp at the bow. The very same system used by military landing craft.
Stephen Robinson (pictured in his wheelchair in images 1 & 2) is Cotswold Boatmobility’s Treasurer and lives in Cam near Dursley.
Stephen enthused… “This whole Boatmobility thing is wonderful. People who have to use wheelchairs can sometimes find themselves indoors for long, lonely periods.
"That situation can easily become the norm. Cotswold Boatmobility will provide those people with the opportunity to get outside and onto the water. What better reason to go out eh? ‘Let’s go boating’. Hard to refuse really!
Stephen’s obvious energy, enthusiasm and understanding nature will undoubtedly prove to be a persuasive tool in achieving the necessary funding.
The total cost of a fully equipped battery powered Wheelyboat is £30,578.40 including VAT while two fully equipped KataKanu come in at a total of £6,633.00 including VAT.
Cllr Geoff Wheeler, SDC leader, comments: “We are very keen that all sectors of the community benefit from the almost 7km of canal that has been renovated. It is a great facility and Cotswold Boatmobility opens it up to a whole new audience.”
Find out more
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