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New ‘Wheelyboat’ will enable disabled people to take part in waterborne activities at the Anderton Centre for the first time

Bolton comedian, writer and actor Peter Kay has launched the first ever Coulam Wheelyboat V17 – a purpose-built fully wheelchair accessible powerboat – in Lancashire.

Lancashire Outdoor Activities Initiative (LOAI) and national charity The Wheelyboat Trust have joined forces to fund, build and provide the new Coulam Wheelyboat V17, which will enable disabled people from Lancashire to take part in several waterborne activities safely and independently, for the first time.

On Saturday 23rd April a small group of VIPs and locals gathered to watch the new boat take her maiden voyage at The Anderton Centre in Chorley. Peter, who was born and still lives in Bolton, cut a ceremonial ribbon and talked about the importance of accessibility and need for shared opportunity, before declaring the boat officially launched. Attendees included Cllr Steve Holgate (Mayor of Chorley), Chris Green (MP Bolton West), George Holmes (Vice-Chancellor, University of Bolton), and representatives from The Wheelyboat Trust, Help for Heroes and the Royal Yachting Association.

On launching the boat, Peter Kay said: “It’s an honour to be asked to launch this very special Wheelyboat, and I hope it brings great happiness to all the people who use it. The new boat will give everyone chance to experience the joy of The Anderton Centre, a fantastic place which I wish every continued success.”

Located on the banks of the Lower Rivington Reservoir, the Anderton Centre is perfectly placed to host a range of water-based activities. But, until now disabled people haven’t been able to fully participate due to a lack of accessible equipment, which has all changed thanks to their new Wheelyboat.

Andy Beadsley, Director of The Wheelyboat Trust explains: “Wheelyboats are a lifeline for anyone with a disability, as each boat removes the barriers and enables disabled people to participate alongside and on equal terms with their able-bodied counterparts. The V17 has a bow door that lowers to form a ramp for roll-on, roll-off boarding, and the drive-from-wheelchair helm makes using the boat a truly independent and accessible experience.”

“All too often people with disabilities are restricted in the activities they can take part in due to lack of accessible facilities and equipment, which is something we are striving to change. This new V17 is a significant step towards the Anderton Centre and LOAI’s long held ambition of incorporating disabled people in every activity it offers.”

David Germain, CEO at Anderton Centre, adds: “The North West has the second highest proportion of disabled people in the UK, and in Greater Manchester alone there are over 521,000 people living with disabilities. We’ve long wanted to be able to accommodate those on our doorstep (and further afield) to take part and enjoy a range of waterborne activities, and for once participate on equal terms with their able-bodied counterparts.”

“The V17 will make a significant difference to The Anderton Centre’s ability to facilitate fully inclusive activities and we are extremely grateful that Peter has launched our new boat.”

The Anderton Centre offers a range of water and land-based activities for local young people and community groups. It has exclusive use of Lower Rivington Reservoir, the largest expanse of water between the Midlands and the Lake District which is often referred to as Lancashire’s mini Lake District, and is spread across four acres of woodland. The LOAI, which operates the centre, was established by Lancashire County Council, The Sports Council and various other local organisations and trusts in 1991, so it is deeply rooted in the county.

Acquirement of the new V17 would not have been possible without the generous support from Bruce Wake Trust, Peter Harrison Foundation, Duchy of Lancashire Benevolent Fund, WO Street Charitable Foundation, RYA Sailability Investment Fund, Arnold Clarke Charitable Foundation, Bernard Sunley Foundation, The Harold & Alice Bridges Charity, Manchester Guardian Society Charitable Trust, The Thornton Trust, Aviva Community Fund, The Anderton Centre Paddle Sports Club and the Lancashire Outdoor Activities Initiative.

To book the new Coulam Wheelyboat V17, please visit www.andertoncentre.co.uk or call 01257 484220.

The Wheelyboat Trust relies on donations from individuals and organisations, and their work could not continue without the ongoing generosity they provide. To help get more disabled people out on UK waters, text WHEELYBOAT to 70085 to donate £5.

To find out more about The Wheelyboat Trust, visit www.wheelyboats.org

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