The vision for the Wallingford Accessible Boat Club was created by John Jenkins MBE, a lover of the countryside and the waterways, a keen fisherman and a passionate advocate of disabled people’s rights to participate in sport and outdoor activities. John grew up on the river here in Wallingford spending every spare moment boating and fishing, particularly in Benson weir. He had a wonderful time and recently he retired back to Wallingford with a determination to once again get out onto the river. John is a full-time wheelchair user and currently opportunities to do that independently are non-existent, not only for him but the majority of disabled people. Many other disabled folk in the area that John spoke to also want to get out on river – whilst wheelchair users can go cruising on large craft in groups, to go boating independently or drive a boat yourself, is nigh on impossible. The Wallingford Accessible Boat Club will change all that – it will enable this disadvantaged segment of the community to achieve what able-bodied people do; to just get out on the river. We are situated not only on a lovely stretch of the Thames but also on the longest lock-free reach on the river – so a Wallingford base is ideal.
The model for the Wallingford Accessible Boat Club is based on that of the Bisham Sailing Club, near Marlow, who offer local disabled people a wheelyboat facility and have a lot of experience with its use. They have kindly offered the benefit of their experience to us so we know we have a proven model and can therefore move forward with confidence.