A brand new wheelchair accessible ‘Wheelyboat’, specially designed to provide disabled people with hassle-free and independent access to waterborne activities, was launched at Maunsel Canal Centre and Tea Shop on Thursday 15th August. The new Wheelyboat enables disabled adults and children to participate in boat trips along the beautiful Bridgwater and Taunton Canal.
The Wheelyboat has been supplied through Countryside Mobility South West, a scheme that is working to make the region a truly ‘accessible’ visitor destination by improving access to the countryside for people with limited mobility. The scheme has been supported with a grant from Natural England as part of its Access to Nature programme, funded from the Big Lottery Fund’s Changing Spaces programme. Additional funds were generously provided by Maunsel Canal Centre, Local Action for Rural Communities, Fredericks Foundation, the Nineveh Charitable Trust, Bernard Sunley Charitable Foundation, Frognal Trust, Elmgrant Trust, Norman Family Charitable Trust, Suzuki GB and Big Lottery ‘Awards for All’.
The Mk III Wheelyboat was designed and developed by The Wheelyboat Trust, a small national charity dedicated to providing disabled people with access to waterborne activities. At 5.3m long it is a versatile craft with a carrying capacity of eight people including wheelchairs. It is fitted with a drive-from-wheelchair console enabling people even with quite severe impairments to experience the thrill of driving the boat themselves. As well as supplying the Wheelyboat, The Wheelyboat Trust helped raise the funds to build and equip it.
Chris Whitcombe, Maunsel Canal Centre owner said: “We are really pleased to now have the Wheelyboat based here at Maunsel Lock and are very much looking forward to enabling more people to access and enjoy the wonderful canal and the surrounding environment”.
Situated mid-way along the Bridgwater & Taunton Canal near North Newton, Bridgwater, Somerset, Maunsel Canal Centre and Tea Shop is run by Chris & Val Whitcombe and along with their trip boat ‘Maunsel Lady’ family members of all ages can enjoy the tranquillity of canal life from the waters perspective.