news updated: 02 Nov 2008

Launch of Mk III Wheelyboat at Castle Loch

Scotland's newest wheelchair accessible Wheelyboat, launched in Oct on Castle Loch

Scotland's newest wheelchair accessible Wheelyboat “Willan Ahoy” was launched on Castle Loch on 30th October by Fiona Armstrong, ably assisted by Martin Mitchell, fisheries Manager and John Hood, Field Officer for the Wheelyboat Trust.  Also in attendance were Shona Warwick, marketing manager and Donald Paterson, Lecturer, from Barony College, Mark Alton and John Rae from the Professional Anglers Association and Ross Gemmell, Annandale and Eskdale Ranger Service.  Fiona also did a short news item on the boat and its use, which was aired on Border TV’s evening news.

Castle Loch, Scotland’s Premier coarse fishery, with many Scottish records, is an ideal venue for the new Mk III Wheelyboat. Its primary use will be for fishing but there have already been enquiries from other sectors wishing to use the boat for nature watching and boat trips.  Martin Mitchell is keen to get the boat used by as many different groups, as often as possible and will be promoting its use at shows and game fairs throughout the Dumfries and Galloway area and further afield. As well as fishery manager at Castle Loch, Martin is also works for Barony College and the boat will be used by its disabled students as an educational resource providing them with access to the Loch and other local waters.
The funding for the purchase of the Mk III was generously donated by Mr Peter Willan through the Willan Charitable Trust.  Mr Willan, who regularly supports causes for disabled people, was delighted to help with this project.  He is a keen angler and hopes the new Wheelyboat will encourage more disabled people to take up the activity.
The Wheelyboat Trust’s Mk III Wheelyboat, with its bow door that lowers to form a ramp, is a multi purpose boat that can be used by individuals or groups of up to 5 adult wheelchair users, for fishing, pleasure boating or nature watching.  The boat is also well suited as a trip boat or small ferry, benefiting a broader spectrum of disabled people across a wide range of waters. Its open level deck provides access to all corners of the boat and enables disabled people to helm the boat themselves if they wish. The Wheelyboat solves the problem of access faced by many disabled people on and around water – it is simplicity itself to board, provides a safe and stable platform and enables disabled people to participate in waterborne activities alongside and on equal terms with their able bodied counterparts. 

The Wheelyboat Trust is a registered charity that promotes and provides the wheelchair accessible Wheelyboat to fisheries and other waters all over the UK.  Since it began its work in 1985 it has supplied 124 Wheelyboats. The Trust does much more than simply provide Wheelyboats, however.  It is involved in a range of activities that promote disabled people’s entitlement to equal access to waterborne activities.  It raises awareness of the difficulties faced by disabled people getting access to lakes, reservoirs and other areas of water; it advises fishery managers and others on access issues; it has instituted the Alan Faulkner Memorial Award to promote the cause of disability angling; it has a comprehensive website and helps prospective venues and local groups raise their own funds to help them acquire Wheelyboats and other facilities for disabled people. 

Its latest development is the Coulam 16’ Wheelyboat, a purpose built fishing boat for large rivers and stillwaters.  The first of these boats are now available to disabled anglers on the river Tweed and on Rutland reservoir. Venues for the near future should include the river Tay and Eyebrook reservoir.

The Wheelyboat Trust (reg charity no 292216) - Andy Beadsley, Director      
North Lodge, Burton Park, Petworth, West Sussex, GU28 0JT  
Telephone 01798 342222, 07860 650023,