Water way to spend a Friday! A great day was HAD by all on board CanalAbility’s canal boat (Stort Daybreak) which was fully adapted to enable our staff with disabilities to relax and enjoy the idyllic delights of the River Lee – which they did to the max! Indeed, every member of Team HAD was given a turn to steer the boat as well as operate the locks… because team building doesn’t begin and end in the boardroom!
CanalAbility are an award-winning charity dedicated to providing the facilities needed for disabled people to enjoy boating, making it the perfect choice of activity for HAD’s most sea-nic team building day out yet! A sentiment echoed by HAD’s receptionist and resident nauti-bouy David Sims: “We had a great day out on the boat trip: the weather was glorious – we couldn’t have picked a better day for it! The boat itself was lovely; very spacious inside, plenty of room for wheelchairs etc. The scenery along the river was great – mostly open fields in the glorious sunshine – oh, and the sound of trains running by and planes overhead added to a grand day out!”
Founded as a registered charity in 1989 with the objective of providing a disability access canal boat on the river Stort, CanalAbility now operate three fully adapted and accessible canal boats and provide boat trips and holidays to over 3000 people every year! They even had holidaymakers flying in from Australia! Speaking of sunnier climes, as you can see from the pictures, HAD were blessed with great weather and even better company for their day out, something Driving Centre Admin Victoria Schwimmer loved: “It was a great sunny day socialising with colleagues – some that I rarely see on a weekly basis. The Hertfordshire and Essex scenery was simply breathtaking and steering the boat with assistance from the skipper was great fun!”
Our Chief Operating Officer, Sean Lawrence was also suitably satisfied with the care and service provided: “I would recommend CanalAbility to families, care homes and day care centres who want to experience a fun day out on the water with beautiful scenery. Huge thanks to the staff and volunteers who give up their time to make the impossible, possible.”
HAD likes big boats and we cannot lie, so it’s a good job our boat of choice came with ramps and lifts to enable access via wheelchair and for people with impaired mobility, something our Driving Centre Assistant Julie Richie was very impressed with! “As I am in a wheelchair, I did not feel I missed out on anything! I had the opportunity to steer the boat and take in all the scenery, plus the staff were so helpful and friendly. The canal boat had all of the home comforts you need: plenty of seating, wet room, fully equipped kitchen, and obviously beds. I am seriously thinking of hiring one next year, as it’s a great way to see the countryside and try a few pubs on the way!”
Finally, a quick word for the CanalAbility staff from our Driving Centre Assistant Manager, Mark Thackeray: “They were fantastic from the moment we boarded and couldn’t have done anymore to make us feel welcome. They encouraged us to all have a go at taking the helm and they ensured all those with mobility difficulties could access all areas of the boat. A truly great day with an amazing team and I would do it again tomorrow if I could!”
So, how aboat it? If you want make waves with your team building event, then head for CanalAbility, with over 25 years experience, they’re dedicated to providing affordable canal boat holidays and day trips for people with disabilities. You can visit their site here, and follow them on Facebook and Twitter. As a ‘not for profit’ charity they dependent on donations, grants and sponsorship in order to keep their charges to users as low as possible. They also rely greatly on a large team of volunteers to skipper and crew their day trips and to supplement the work of their staff. Please click here for more details on how you can help!
Simply Boatiful! HAD’s boat of choice was the Stort Daybreak: 55ft long and 12ft 6in wide, and able to accommodate 12 passengers. She is so spacious that this number may include six wheelchair users. She has a disability access toilet, with changing bench, shower, hoist and adjustable height washbasin. There is also a wheelchair accessible galley with induction hob, microwave, kettle and other kitchen utensils. She also has a day bed with hoist and is equipped with a ramp and lift to ensure full participation by wheelchair users.