Sailing centre of excellence, Rutland Sailability, celebrated an expansion to its services for disabled sailors on 29 August with an official champagne launch of a brand new rigid inflated boat (RIB) by the High Sherriff of Rutland, Margaret Miles.
The purchase of the safety boat, along with a launch and recovery vehicle, was made possible thanks to a £23,400 grant from the LEADER funding programme managed by Opportunity Peterborough with support from Rutland County Council.
Based at Rutland Water, Rutland Sailability supports hundreds of disabled sailing enthusiasts to enjoy the sport with over 20 specially adapted boats to cater for all abilities. As a Royal Yachting Association (RYA) Sailability Centre of Excellence, Rutland Sailability advises other clubs on how to run successful Sailability centres and even hosted trials for the Invictus Games in 2018.
The club attracts hundreds of disabled and able-bodied sailors each year and the new RIB and recovery vehicle means that more people can be accommodated safely on the water at any one time when it is open on Thursdays and Saturdays.
Rutland Sailability is run entirely by its 200 members, around half of which are disabled. They volunteer their time on and off the water to run the club and provide hands-on support to more novice sailors. The club ensures that everyone who wants to sail does, and is on the lookout for even more volunteers to meet growing customer demand.
Rutland Sailability also hosts regattas, training and fun activities for groups like the Parents Association for Seriously Ill Children (PASIC), Grantham Disabled Children’s Charity and students completing the Duke of Edinburgh Award. These usually attract 170 regular visitors on top of its 200 strong membership.
Sarah Forsyth, a volunteer fundraiserat Rutland Sailability said, “Rutland Sailability attracts people from as far afield as Ireland, Scotland and Yorkshire who want to use our facilities, so the addition of the RIB and launch and recovery vehicle has been a huge boost. It doesn’t matter what disability someone has, we will always find a way to get them onto the water.
“We are completely reliant on our volunteers to make sure our members and visitors have unforgettable experiences. With these new pieces of equipment we can help even more people sail at any one time and develop their passion for the sport, and we would welcome new volunteers to help us make the most of this extra capacity, whether they’re avid sailors, fundraisers or administrative whizzes.
“We’re extremely grateful to Opportunity Peterborough which runs the LEADER programme, Rutland County Council, the Moralitis Group, and the members of the LEADER Local Action Group who have provided so much support throughout the application process.”
High Sherriff of Rutland, Maragaret Miles added, “I am delighted to be here to launch this new boat. It’s been an absolute pleasure to meet some of the Rutland Sailability team and the partners involved in securing this funding. Rutland Sailability promotes our region extensively and we are very lucky to have an organisation that helps so many people stay active whilst promoting social inclusion.”
LEADER funding aims to boost the rural economy, from supporting tourism and small business growth to aiding the development of agriculture, farm diversification and forestry. Across rural Peterborough and Rutland, the £1.3 million funding programme is being delivered by Opportunity Peterborough with support from Rutland County Council.
This work is supported by a Local Action Group (LAG) made up of 13 local volunteers from a variety of sectors and professions. The LAG approves funding for projects with the aim of improving the overall prosperity of the area.
Dennis Stanley, Chair of the LAG said, “The volunteers behind Rutland Sailability provide an absolutely outstanding service to their members and visitors alike, sharing their passion for sailing and making the sport accessible for everyone. It’s no surprise it’s one of our region’s most well-established centres of excellence and we’re delighted to have been able to support the club’s brilliant work. Now that Rutland Sailabilty has the equipment it needs to support its growing customer base, this is a great opportunity for more volunteers to get on board.”
Cllr Oliver Hemsley, Leader of Rutland County Council said, “As a keen sailor myself I know all about the passion and commitment of Rutland Sailability’s volunteers. The team is absolutely committed to removing any and all barriers to sailing – they do whatever they can to get people out onto the water and this new RIB will be a great asset for them. We’re extremely pleased to see so much support for a club that has a big, positive impact for people in Rutland and right across the country.”
Chief Executive of Opportunity Peterborough, Tom Hennessy concluded, “The geographical pull of Rutland Sailiability is spectacular and we hope that more people can volunteer their time to support the club. Their services are in such high demand and this brings a lot of footfall to the region, boosting the economy. The dedication of the volunteers is outstanding and we’re very proud to contribute towards the club’s continued growth so that even more people benefit from this centre of excellence.”