Wheelyboat on the Stroudwater
A Wheelyboat has recently been undergoing feasibility cruises for the disabled on the Stroudwater Navigation in Stroud.
Strachans Close launch
The boat was launched at the slipway adjoining Strachans Close near Chestnut Lane, Stroud on Wednesday 29th October.
This cruise, led by Peter Bisson, local Operations Director for Sailing4Disabled, was organised for residents of the Hollies Care Centre, Littlecombe near Dursley through CCT member Mal Brown.
What is a Wheelyboat?
Wheelyboats are wheelchair accessible boats that provide disabled people with independent access to canal boating and all its attractions. The boats are designed to accommodate wheelchair users in particular.
The aluminium boat has a landing craft style drop-down bow section which permits wheel chairs and mobility buggies to enter the passenger space.
On loan and available to purchase
The boat is on loan to Sailing4Disabled.
It is available to purchase at a cost of £9,000. The latest version Wheelyboat costs £27,000 to purchase new.
Inland Waterways support
Martin Turner, Chairman of the Herefordshire & Gloucestershire branch of the Inland Waterways Association (IWA) was in attendance and discussed the benefits and needs of such an operation with several local councillors, representatives of The Cotswold Canals Trust and The Cotswolds Canal Cruising Club. Those needs prompt many questions…
Martin explained… "The IWA intends to give its backing to this project, not only with some early funding but in raising its profile with other potential funders. This canal has been restored for everyone to use and that includes people who must use wheelchairs to get about."
Smiles generate smiles
The sight of smiling faces brought similar smiles to those using the new towpath and operating the new electric swingbridge. After the successful cruise with the disabled passengers, the boat crew volunteers treated themselves to an exploratory cruise down the canal, through the locks at Dudbridge, continuing through Ebley and towards Stonehouse.
KataKanu crewman's gratitude
A twin hulled canoe known as a KataKanu accompanied the Wheelyboat on this trip. Bill Davis, a Cashes Green resident and former local Scout leader, was one of the KataKanu crew.
Bill commented, "This is such a wonderful idea. I am so grateful. I did a lot of canoeing with the scouts. Then in 2010 I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. This project will allow me and others in the same situation to get back to enjoying some boating."
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