Boatmobility’s new vessel, Symphony, brought some calm to the Stroudwater Canal as it was launched amidst pouring rain and howling winds this afternoon.
The new wheelchair-accessible boat was launched today at Ebley Wharf by the Stonehouse-based charity Cotswold Boatmobility and sponsored by the Cotswold Canals Connected partnership.
Cotswold Boatmobility aims to make boating accessible for all with wheelchair-accessible boats and Katakanus, an amalgamation of a catamaran and canoe. Many participants have mobility, mental health or learning issues and without the charity would struggle to get onto the water.
The official launch event involved a ribbon cutting from the boat by Jan Thomas, Chair of Cotswold Boatmobility, as the passengers were applauded by onlookers on the canal path.
Jan said: “We are extremely grateful to Cotswold Canals Connected for its continued support over the years and for now generously sponsoring a new boat. It is so important for us to work with local organisations which share our values of prioritising inclusivity and accessibility.
“With the addition of Symphony, we will now be able to put on more trips and get even more people to experience the wonderful Cotswold canals. Our sessions have been significantly increasing in demand and we are in need of more volunteers, so we would love to hear from anyone interested in helping us. Boating or caring skills would be useful, however training can be provided to those interested.”
Chris Mitford-Slade, Cotswold Canals Connected Project Director said: “The Cotswold Canals Connected project is not only for restoring the canal, but for creating inclusive and thriving communities. Cotswold Boatmobility is a vital part of the Stonehouse community, and plays a huge part in getting people, who would be otherwise unable, out on the canal.
“We are pleased to play a part in helping the charity expand and look forward to seeing it widen its opportunities. We are also very grateful for the support from the National Lottery Heritage Fund who provide both funding support and strategic advice to the project team.”
To find out more about Cotswold Boatmobility, apply as a volunteer or book a boat trip on their new boat, visit https://www.cotswoldboatmobility.org.uk/.
Find out more about the Cotswold Canals Connected project at www.cotswoldcanalsconnected.org and by following Cotswold Canals Connected on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube.
Video and pictures by Matt Bigwood.