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The sailing trips for disabled people

The East Anglian Sailing Trust provides regular sailing sessions for disabled adults and children. It's managed totally by volunteers without any paid staff. 

Each week during the summer regular sailing sessions are launched from the Trust's waterside community centre, where clients benefit from disabled changing facilities. The centre also serves as a training base, where Royal Yachting Association training courses are run for members at a subsidised cost. The Trust also provides three sailing cruises each year for blind adults from all over the UK and beyond. Utilising volunteer yachts fitted with special talking charts and instrumentation, blind sailors are given the opportunity to fully participate in the experience of sailing the Suffolk coast.

Case studies:

Simon Daws - By chance at the age of 23 I was diagnosed with a condition called Retinitis Pigmentosa, which is a degenerative condition of the retinas. Whilst I only showed early signs of the condition, I was told that it would typically affect me into my forties. I learnt to sail as a teenager, along with my brother on the River Blackwater in Essex where we spent many a day happily sailing the river. By the time I reached my thirties I had moved to Suffolk where I continued my sailing on the River Deben, happily buzzing around the river in my dinghy with great enjoyment. By the time I reached forty, my condition started to take hold, and my sight levels were slowly beginning to diminish. I carried on sailing my dinghy for as long as I could, until going out was fine but I was struggling to find my way back, at which time for my own safety, it was decided that I would cease sailing. By 2009 my sight had reduced to a point where I was officially registered blind. At about this time, I had a visit from a sight charity who asked my what my hobbies were, to which I replied” well I used to like sailing, but that is now all behind me”. My visitor then said,”Have you heard about EAST?” I looked up the East Anglian Sailing Trust on the internet, and found that it was based only about 6 miles away from where I lived on the River Orwell, near Ipswich. I attended the sailing trust in late summer of 2009 where I went out for a sail on a large open dinghy, which was great fun. I continued this type of sailing until my confidence had increased and I felt able to book my place on an EAST Visually impaired Yacht cruising weekend. I was delighted to take part in this type of sailing on the bigger live aboard boats, as I had never had the opportunity before, and the fact that I was now had very limited sight made it all the more exciting. I found it gave me the chance, not only to continue my sailing, but to act as part of a normal crew, despite my disability, which was liberating. In 2012, through my activities with EAST, I was asked to become a trustee, which I readily agreed to. My personal portfolio as a trustee, is to chair the Visually Impaired Cruising committee, where we arrange our programme and encourage Visually impaired people to sail with us. Whilst I enjoy my sailing immensely, I get great joy when I speak with other visually impaired people, who are at times, in a dark place and lacking in confidence, and persuade them to try sailing with EAST. Many of these people have now returned many times and we see their confidence grow, as mine did, some years before. Sailing may be seen as a rich mans sport at times, but EAST makes it available for all to come and enjoy the feeling of the wind on their face as they travel at speed, the sea spray and the sound of the sails. EAST empowers disabled people to experience sailing on the East coast, and enables them to take control once again despite their disability. 

Vicky - I was paralyzed in 2002 after suffering a rare condition known as a vascular spinal stroke.   I was 35 when a blood clot built up over time and burst, taking with it a part of my spinal cord. I did very little after coming home from hospital. I lost my job and had to move home, so I spent a long time existing in a dark place rather than living. I was in Ipswich town centre when a member of the East Anglian Sailing Trust asked me if I had considered sailing?   I had previously been into sports, so decided to give it a go. The team were very welcoming and even without experience, the instructors made me feel relaxed and that sailing could be possible, despite my disability. I have now been sailing with EAST for eight years and have completed my RYA level 1&2 qualifications. My partner has also started as a volunteer and is hoping to also qualify.

Without the East Anglian Sailing Trust I would possibly still be in a dark depression. They gave me a new lease of life, which has continued for almost a decade. I have also made some great and special friends from sailing, as well as enjoying the thrill and freedom of being on the water.”

Contact: Geoff Dreher, Chairman East Anglian Sailing Trust (EAST Chairman This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; Tel: 03330 883278 or Tracy Hickey  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; 07368209557

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