Over the last 20 years there have been radical changes in attitudes and services available for people with learning and physical disabilities. People with disabilities are now accessing work and leisure activities and are living longer due to better health care and more opportunity to exercise. The founder members of Telford Sailability have, between them, many years experience of working with this group of people. It was through personal experience of sailing of two of these members, Paul and Celia Devey, which sparked the idea for Telford Sailability.
“We went with Telford Sailing Club to Clewedog for a sailing and camping weekend in June 2009. The winds were quite strong on the Saturday and a lot of our boats capsized in the race. I noticed though that there was one boat on the lake that hardly tipped up at all let alone capsized. I was curious, so I inquired about it at the club house and was told that it was an Access boat, specially built for people with disabilities. This made it very stable even in high winds. I immediately thought about the people that I work with and I realized that the opportunity was there for them to enjoy sailing as I do.
This is where the vision for Telford Sailability started.
An internet search showed that the nearest Sailability centre with Access boats was at Sneyd water sports centre near Bloxwich. Contact was made with Geoff Moore the senior instructor there and was followed up by a visit to see his facilities. The young people using these boats at Sneyd did so with ease, and it was obvious how much enjoyment they were getting from it.
At the begining of May 2010 we took a group of 23 people with disabilities over three sessions to Bloxwich to sail the boats there. 19 of them loved it.
A few days after these taster session we were at an event were the then Mayor of Telford, Karen Blundel, was there, she wanted to speak to our guys about the photo’s that were on display but all they wanted to talk about was the sailing sessions that they had been on. I said “We need to be able to do this in Telford”
At the end of the event Karen came up to me and said “ If you can form a committee by next month, and get a constitution in place you could apply for a mayoral grant.”
We got £2,000 and that got us started. With a grant from the national lottery we were able to buy our first dinghy and the hoist and sling ( modelled by me somewhere on this site)
With continued fund raising and hard work we now have our own safety boat six Access dingies, a Stradavari 2.4 keel boat, and Miracle and Skipper sailing dingies and a pontoon which carries the hoist and enables more people to access our dinghies quicker and safer
We will continue to expand who we cater for because we know sailing is for everyone