Adapted boat lets disabled get afloat

Bernard Cribbins, right, and Andy Beadsley on the boat

Bernard Cribbins, right, and Andy Beadsley on the boat

First published in News The Oxford Times: Photograph of the Author by , Council Reporter, also covering Oxford city centre. Call me on 01865 425429

A STATE-of-the-art boat has been launched at an Oxfordshire Reservoir to allow wheelchair users to indulge in angling.

Actor Bernard Cribbins was on hand at Farmoor Reservoir yesterday to launch it.

Mr Cribbins, who is a patron of The Wheelyboat Trust, which provided the boat, said: “It is of huge importance to give disabled anglers the same opportunities as able-bodied anglers and this purpose-built boat will do just that.”

The so-called Wheelyboat will let disabled anglers access the boat safely and allow them to enjoy the catch at the reservoir.

It will launch from a special pontoon at the reservoir, operated by Thames Water.

The boat, which cost £12,000, was paid for by Thames Water with additional funds from The Peter Harrison Foundation, a charity focusing on offering equal sporting opportunities.

There is a special hydraulic platform within the boat and a step-free external ramp between the boat and the pontoon.

The Wheelyboat will join the fleet of boats already at the reservoir.

Matt Prior, conservation, access and recreation manager at Thames Water, said: “The facilities for fishing here at Farmoor are some of the best in the country, so we want to make it accessible to everyone.

“We have already had a lot of interest from disabled anglers who want to go out on the Wheelyboat.”

The trust is a charity which encourages venues open to the public to provide Wheelyboats for their disabled visitors.

Since being set up in 1985, it has provided 147 Wheelyboats.

Andy Beadsley, director of the trust, said: “It is very exciting to launch a Wheelyboat at Farmoor.

“There is more awareness about disability now compared to a few years ago.

“I am a wheelchair user and a fisherman myself and just getting in and out of a standard boat can be very difficult and not terribly dignified.”

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