Aldridge Sailing Club is celebrating a £37,000 grant boost to build new specialist facilities for disabled sailors as a month of free and low cost RYA Push The Boat Out ‘try sailing’ events continues across the Black Country next weekend (18-19 May).
Four years after Walsall Sailability moved to Aldridge SC’s Stubbers Green Pool home, grants, including £32,550 from Sport England, have been secured to build a new disabled toilet and shower room, while the club’s new extension will also include an accessible lobby-style entrance with ramps. Previous grants have enabled the club to add specialist boats, a hoist and new jetties and pontoons to improve water access for people who use mobility aids.
Walsall Sailability is part of the national RYA Sailability programme giving disabled people opportunities to learn to sail and sail regularly, and from 10.30am on Sunday (19 May) anyone of all abilities is invited to come and try sailing for free as Aldridge hosts its Push The Boat Out event.
Greensforge SC, near Wolverhampton, is also opening its doors for for the local community to get on board for a new adventure from from 11am on Sunday, while Sandwell Valley SC, at Swan Pool, is welcoming all comers to give sailing a go on Saturday (18 May) from 10am. All kit and safety equipment is provided so just bring a pair of old trainers you don’t mind getting wet and your sense of adventure and fun.
Jeff Moore, Walsall Sailability Chair, said:
We have four regular sailors, with two wheelchair users who only come on open days. The club hosts a Mencap and Push the Boat Out Day, which is offered to disabled participants, but due the lack of facilities, wheelchair users and/or ambulant sailors who have female carers, don't stay and we can’t cater for local community groups.
We can cater for a full range of disabilities with the new building. The facilities will allow our wheelchair members to access sailing on a weekly basis and during open days we can accommodate a larger range of disabled people, while parents and carers will stay to enjoy the social activities the club can offer. These grants come at the end of three years of hard work. To see contractors on site is a dream come true.”
Work on the new facilities started during April, with a 10-week build schedule. The club hopes for the facility to be fully functional in early June.
Walsall Sailability client, Ashleigh, added:
I have cerebral palsy and require the use of the wheelchair for day-to-day activities and so cannot access a normal toilet or changing facility. The current facilities are too small for me to be assisted by carers, and even if carers could help me there are no support rails or other support equipment of any kind.
If I were to participate in Sailability activities, I would be at the club for hours at a time and would need access to a disabled toilet and changing facility that I could use. These new facilities will be brilliant and mean I can come sailing more often."
Dudley SC will bring the month of free sailing to a close on Lodge Farm Reservoir, Netherton, on Sunday 26 May. With so much national focus on physical and mental wellbeing, being on the water gives everyone a chance to get away from modern life, spend time with the family, have fun with friends and just enjoy the feeling of being in the fresh air and closer to nature.
A real family day out, many Push The Boat Out venues will also be putting on shore-side activities like BBQs and games for the kids too. Find the full details of your nearest Push The Boat Out event at www.rya.org.uk/ptbo
Image Caption: Walsall Sailability’s Joe Bromwich being hoisted into a powerboat by a parent, Paul Jones, who's son is also a Sailability member