A brand new wheelchair accessible powerboat will be launched this afternoon at the Liverpool Watersports Centre. This will be the first fully accessible powerboat at the centre, strengthening existing provisions for people with disabilities. Local Solutions has worked in partnership with the Wheelyboat Trust to fundraise for the boat, to enable people with mobility impairments the ability to participate fully in water-based activities at the centre.
The new Coulam V20 Wheelyboat, has been named ‘Sir Bert Massie’ after the renowned disability rights campaigner and long standing trustee of Local Solutions. The boat will be officially launched by Sir Bert Massie’s wife, Lady Maureen Massie. The event will also be attended by the Lord Lieutenant of Merseyside, Mr Mark Blundell and local Councillor Pam Thomas, Cabinet Member for Inclusive and Accessible City of Liverpool City Council who will both be making speeches at the event.
Local Solutions’ Watersports Centre is in the process of developing its facilities specifically for people with disabilities to boost well-being, self-esteem and skills. The combined successful fundraising of £33,220 by Local Solutions and the Wheelyboat Trust with the support from Sports England for the new Wheelyboat has allowed the thriving centre to enrich the lives of their learning, sensory and mobility-impaired visitors with this new roll-on, roll-off access powerboat, which will enable them to enjoy the excitement of water sports without the need to leave their chairs.
The special features of the Wheelyboat will provide users with mobility impairments with new skillsets, as disabled users will be able to learn to operate the boat themselves, as well as achieving accredited watersports qualifications.
The Wheelyboat will also play an important part in extending the offer to visitors to the city. The Liverpool Watersports Centre is already enjoyed by many tourists and won the ‘Small Venue of the Year’ award at the LCR Tourism awards in 2017. Visitors with mobility restrictions will now be able to enjoy pleasure boating and historical tours of the famous Liverpool docks from the water, as well as taking part in power boat training.
Jon Hannaway, manager at Liverpool Watersports Centre says,
“We’re committed to extending our activities and provision, to make watersports accessible to everyone. Having the Wheelyboat means we can offer so much more for people with disabilities, everything from pleasure boating, tours of the docks to gaining qualifications. Taking part in watersports is so good for your physical and mental health and this is just the first part of our campaign to extend the activities we have available. The Wheelyboat gives us the perfect vessel for wheelchair users to experience independence and get involved on the water, honing both their physical skills and boosting their well-being.”
Andy Beadsley, Director of The Wheelyboat Trust says,
“Our Wheelyboats are designed to provide all people with access to the water, giving disabled people confidence and the equal opportunity to experience freedom and enjoyment on the water. The launch of this boat by Local Solutions at the Liverpool Watersports Centre will allow disabled visitors to not only have access to the water, but also gain powerboating tuition and qualifications for the first time, so this launch is particularly special.”
Developed by The Wheelyboat Trust and J M Coulam Boatbuilders, the V20 Wheelyboat offers flexible seating, an open level deck and a watertight bow door that lowers to form a solid ramp for extremely easy and safe wheelchair-friendly access. The craft allows people with mobility impairments to participate in waterborne activities alongside and on equal terms with their non-disabled counterparts, an important factor in the quality of life they are able to lead.
Local Solutions would like to thank the Liverpool Watersports customers and staff for their support in raising funds for the boat and the following charitable trusts: Sport Engalnd, Lord Leverhulme’s Charitable Trust, Boshier Hinton Foundation, Brian Wilson Charitable Trust, Dowager Countess Eleanor Peel Trust, Weinstock Fund, Duchy of Lancaster Benevolent Fund, John Rayner Charitable Trust and Charles Brotherton Trust