A charity which enables disabled people the chance to go out onto the sea is hoping to do more in Guernsey.
Wetwheels Jersey, which is affiliated to the Wetwheels Foundation, was established in 2014 and has enabled hundreds of disabled and disadvantaged people to spend time at sea on their specially adapted catamaran. The Wetwheels Foundation, which was named British Marine Charity of the Year in 2018, was set up by internationally renowned disabled sailor Geoff Holt and now operates four vessels across the British Isles. Wetwheels Jersey is independently owned but benefits from the full support and guidance of the Foundation.
“We have an excellent profile in Jersey and have established excellent relationships with charities catering for the disabled as well as a number of other organisations such as Holidays for Heroes and The Primary Care Mental Health Service, which includes people living with dementia. Every trip is a pleasure as you can see the enjoyment on everyone’s faces and the feedback we receive is overwhelming,” said Wetwheels spokesperson Dina Cook.
“What we want to do now is raise awareness in Guernsey so that we can offer the same opportunity to people here. We know there will be plenty of demand but sadly to make it happen, we do need sponsorship.”
Wetwheels hopes to come to Guernsey for short stays, as part of an outreach programme, so that it can run several trips a day over the course of three to four days. It has recently been to the island to take Paul Soper out with family friends who were visiting from Hungary. Mr Soper was a keen sailor until an accident three years ago left him paralysed from the neck down. The trip was organised by his PA Sandie White.
“It’s absolutely fantastic that Paul can be included in an activity which he loved and also spend time at sea with people who are important to him. This is his second trip on Wetwheels as he went out earlier this summer when his daughter Leonie was visiting from Los Angeles and you could see in his eyes how much he had enjoyed it,” she said.
“We have been talking about it to lots of people since and everyone is very interested. We can only hope that companies will come forward and support the charity.”
Mr Soper was joined by his wife Nyasha, his sister Viv Peto and Sandor and Andrea Hoffer-Saary and their four children for the four hour trip. Mr Hoffer-Saary had worked for the Sopers in 1997 and remained close to them since.
Mrs Peto said she was delighted her brother had the opportunity again to do something he had once loved.
“It really is amazing and I can’t wait to go out. We’ll be able to make some new good memories as there has been a lot of sad times in recent years.”
Ravenscroft has supported the charity this summer and Katrina Bray, marketing and PR executive said it was clear the positive impact it had.
“The whole operation was very impressive and it was wonderful to see Paul and the people close to him head for an unforgettable day out. Hopefully Guernsey companies will come forward to support Wetwheels and enable disabled islanders the chance to access an activity that would have previously been impossible,” she said.
Anyone interested in knowing more about the charity can contact Dina Cook, Operations Director by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org