10:55AM, Saturday 19 July 2014
A High-Tech powerboat designed for disabled access and the first to set sail on the Thames has been launched at Bisham Abbey.
More than 150 guests attended the event held the national sports centre in Marlow Road on Tuesday as part of celebrations to mark the 30th birthday of The Wheelyboat Trust - a charity focused on providing disabled people with the opportunity to get out on the water.
As part of its work the charity offers a wide range of boats designed to accommodate people who are disabled.
Wheelyboat's new model - named Coulam V20 and designed by J M Boatbuilders - was bought for £25,000 by the Rivertime Boat Trust for use as part of the Boatability watersports club which opened at the abbey in May.
It is considered to be the most versatile Wheelyboat developed to date and the first to operate on the Thames.
It has been specially designed for passengers to board via a roll-on, roll-off bow ramp.
A level deck provides disabled users with easy access of the water.
Guests at Tuesday's event watched-on as a fleet of Wheelyboats, with students on board from Maidenhead's Manor Green school, took to the river to demonstrate the ease of operating the vessel.The day was hosted by Wheelyboat president, The Duke of Roxburgh, Guy David Innes-Ker.
It also featured an inspirational speech from sportswoman and disability campainger Claire Lomas who was paralysed after a riding accident in 2007.
Charity patron actor Bernard Cribbins OBE was also there.
Andy Beadsley, director of The Wheelyboat Trust said: "These Wheelyboats are so important for breaking down the barriers that people with disabilities face when looking to participate in waterborne pursuits."
Boatability currently has two bellboats which can only be operated by children who have some degree of core strength.
Head of Boatability, Peter May, said: "Now those that don't have that will be able to come on the Wheelyboat, so everyone in the club can go out at the same time."
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