Halsey House Bucaneers Rule The Waves...

What's a Wheelyboat, we hear you ask? Well, it's a boat with simple, but clever bow door that allows wheelchair-bound people to experience the joy of not only sailing a boat but helming it too. Find out how we intend to bring one of these fantastic vessels to Blakeney and how we got on with the trial launch...

On July 10th, 2019, Blakeney, Cley & District Royal British Legion hosted a successful trial launch of a Wheelyboat V20, a craft specifically designed with bow doors to make it wheelchair-accessible, from Morston Quay.

Four wheelchair-bound residents from Halsey House, the Royal British Legion’s care home in Cromer were treated to a personal charter to see the seals at Blakeney Point and to successfully test the craft’s capabilities.

Working in partnership with The Wheelyboat Trust, Blakeney, Cley & District Royal British Legion hope to raise funds to make a Wheelyboat available to Legion beneficiaries and others as part of their initiative to provide recuperative breaks using the local resources and working closely with activity providers in the north Norfolk coastal area as well as allowing people confined to wheelchairs to access seal trips, enjoy the pleasures of sailing in the area and take powerboating courses.

Charly-Louise Hurst, Event Coordinator, said, “We’re really excited to have had a successful trial launch of this brilliant, innovative craft which makes such a difference to peoples’ lives; being able to board and helm a boat is something that many people cannot do and for us to be able to offer that to them is a real game-changer, particularly in and around Blakeney, which is such a beautiful area to spend time in and to make that accessible to more people by opening up the water to them is such a rewarding thing.”

Before the launch, the party was ‘sung off’ with specially written shanty by The Old Wild Rovers, a local singing group. After their voyage, the residents and carers were treated to afternoon tea at the Blakeney Royal British Legion Branch at the Harbour Room, Blakeney.

The residents were enthusiastic in their praise: Mike English said the trip, ‘Took me back to my childhood’. John Chapman added, ‘It opened up a whole new world, wonderful to enjoy the beautiful Harbour’. ‘Glorious to be on the water’ was Beryl Best’s comment and Stella Read summed up the day by saying, ‘It was absolutely amazing, wonderful to see the seals in their natural home. Something like this should be available for people like us’.

Halsey House carer, Allison, said, ‘It was fabulous to see the smiles on their faces, they’ll be talking about this for months!’.

Andy Beadsley, director of The Wheelyboat Trust said, ‘I enjoyed supporting the project, our aim is to get more people on the water through projects like this’. The Wheelyboat trust, established in 1984 and with patrons including the Duke of Roxburghe, Jeremy Paxman and Sir Matthew Pinsent, originally set out to provide boats for disabled anglers. The Trust has grown and now provides funding and boats for projects all over the country.

Blakeney, Cley and District Royal British Legion are spearheading a range of exciting new initiatives to provide breaks for veterans and their dependents and make a range of activities, including sailing, accessible to Royal British Legion beneficiaries using the unique, natural and therapeutic resources North Norfolk has to offer as well as facilitating veterans’ start-up and existing businesses.