Wallingford Accessible Boat Club give thumbs up to fundraising drive!

The Wallingford Accessible Boat Club (WABC) have at last found a mooring for its planned wheelyboat and have given the ‘all clear’ to move forward with the next phase of the project – the drive for the funding needed to purchase it.

John Jenkins MBE, chairman and initiator of the WABC project, explained: “We have at last secured a mooring location for our wheelyboat in the proximity of Wallingford.  We have been searching for over two years now and although the mooring is only temporary, for at least a year, and whilst we will still search for permanent location in the heart of the town, if our wheelyboat arrived tomorrow we would have somewhere to put it. Now we can crack on raising the necessary funds to purchase it. We estimate our capital costs will be in the order of £55,000 with annual running costs of about £10,000 so that’s what we are going for.  Yes, it is a tall order but I am confident we can achieve it, possibly in less than a year. With a fair wind, we hope to have a wheelyboat for use by the local Wallingford disabled community and their supporters by next May/June, in readiness for the 2019 season.”

The Wallingford Accessible Boat Club is a voluntary, community organisation where able-bodied and disabled folk are encouraged to get involved.  The project will be enabled by a wheelchair accessible powerboat, the Coulam V20, which has been proven on other waterways around the UK and one other on the Thames, notably by the Bisham Accessible Boat Club near Marlow. The Coulam V20 offers a drop-down bow facility that enables wheelchair users to simply roll on to the flat bottom of the boat. The objective is to enable disabled people the opportunity to independently participate in river-bourne experiences, such as picnicking, fishing and boating on the Wallingford stretch of the Thames.

Jenkins continued: “A great deal of background work has been undertaken over the past few months to establish the Club.  An application has been submitted to the Charities Commission to formally establish WABC as a charity; thanks to Wallingford 1155, a very descriptive promotional leaflet has been printed; we have a Facebook presence and a web domain name secured with the website development nearing completion.  We have offers of funding on the table from both individuals and grant-aiding Trusts as well as funding support from the Wheelyboat Trust.  Our team of volunteers, including the proposed trustees of the charity, are in place and raring to go.  We have the full backing of Wallingford Town Council as well as a large number of disability organisations in the local area together with the disability sailing organisation RYA Sailability.  All we need now is to raise the necessary funding!”

Jenkins summed up: “We have all got to work hard to get some real momentum behind our efforts to raise the funds.  I appeal to individuals, grant making oganisations and local companies to please help us.  Any financial assistance, small or large, will be highly appreciated.  If anyone has any ideas as to possible funders please contact me: email john.jenkins999@btinternet.com or mobile 07976 297835.  We will be very grateful.”

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