HRH The Princess Royal, President of the RYA, will be among the guests helping Queen Mary Sailability celebrate its 20th anniversary at Thames Water's Queen Mary Reservoir, Ashford in June.
Double Paralympic bronze medallist and five times SKUD World Champion Alexandra Rickham, who started sailing with the help of Queen Mary Sailability, will also be there, along with guests from six special schools and other disabled sailors.
Also attending is Mike Browne, a wheelchair user who represented Great Britain in the sailing at the Sydney 2000 Paralympics, and sailed the Atlantic and Mediterranean in a boat he created called Impossible Dream. Mike is a major supporter of Queen Mary and Thames Sailability, having donated a Powercat 695 motor cruiser for use as a community boat, also called Impossible Dream, in the Shepperton area of the Thames.
The 20th anniversary event will include the launch of a new Drascombe Longboat, which has been modified to have optional wheel steering so that wheelchair users can helm the boat.
Queen Mary Sailability chairman Alan Woolford says: “20 years on RYA Sailability continues to encourage and support people with disabilities to take up the sailing and boating. Many go on to enjoy sailing on a regular basis, and we hope the new boat will help more, like Alexandra and Mike, to make it to the absolute top level in our sport.”
Andrew Craig from Queen Mary Sailability adds: “During the afternoon, the children from our after school club will take to the water to race against our regular adult sailors. The day will be topped off with the cutting of a birthday cake and unveiling a plaque to commemorate the visit of The Princess Royal on this great occasion for Queen Mary.”
“Queen Mary Sailability should be very proud of their achievements over 20 years.” says RYA Sailability Manager Joff McGill. “A huge number of people have contributed their time, effort and skills to make it happen and the RYA are very grateful. I know they will continue to go from strength to strength and the new boat is going to be a fabulous addition to the fleet.”
Through RYA Sailability on average over 12,000 people with a disability get on the water each month, with approximately 1,500 becoming regular participants. Queen Mary and Thames Sailability have accreditation from RYA Sailability for boating with people with physical, sensory and learning disabilities.
Queen Mary Sailability's role is to encourage and support people with disabilities to take up the sport of sailing and facilitate their integration into the boating community. Based at Queen Mary Sailing Club and staffed by volunteers, the group meets every Thursday, from April through October with mornings for special schools and afternoons for individuals. The group also meets on Saturday mornings integrated with able bodied sailors for Saturday Club. Racing and race training has become a regular activity in Hansa dinghies.
For more information visit http://www.queenmary.org.uk/sailability.aspx