The Wetwheels Foundation has been named British Marine Charity of the Year by the British Marine Federation (British Marine). The award encompasses all of the Wetwheels operations, including the Jersey-based vessel, which was the second in the fleet to be commissioned.
Wetwheels Jersey is a power catamaran which gives disabled and disadvantaged islanders the chance of getting to sea. Wetwheels was founded by internationally-renowned disabled sailor Geoff Holt, who started the charity with a single vessel based on the Solent.
Shortly after the Jersey boat was commissioned in 2014, Geoff set up the Wetwheels Foundation to act as the parent body for all Wetwheels stations around the country. There are now five vessels in the fleet with more being planned.
Commenting on the Award, Geoff Holt said: “The Wetwheels Foundation is absolutely thrilled and honoured to win the charity of the year award from British marine. This award is particularly important to us because it is made by the organisation which represents boating businesses across the country.
We are very pleased that our efforts have been recognised, particularly the fact Wetwheels is providing the opportunity for so many people with disabilities to access the water, most of whom have never been on the water before.
What we do costs a lot of money and we rely on the generosity and support of the public and businesses to enable us to continue our work. We would dearly love to have more support from the boating community and would welcome the opportunity to speak to British Marine members who might like to support us in some way.”
Brian Watt, Chairman of Wetwheels Jersey Limited added: “We are proud to have been the first vessel in the extended Wetwheels fleet. Since we took to the water in 2014, we have carried thousands of people who would not otherwise have an opportunity to go to sea and experience our Island from the water. This award is recognition for the hard work and commitment of our skippers, crews and volunteers and the support and generosity of our sponsors and fundraisers. We are part of the bigger Wetwheels family and we benefit greatly from the patronage and support of the Foundation. Geoff Holt is inspirational in his vision for the organisation and we are very proud to be a part of that.”
British Marine is a national organisation for the leisure, superyacht and small commercial marine industry, with over 1,600 members. The organisation aims to create, develop and maintain high quality services, benefits and commercial activities to promote the British marine industry. Announcing the award, the judges praised Wetwheels for providing access to the water for people with all disabilities, with 80% of participants having never been on a boat before and who would not have access any other way.n