Ahoy Sailing Centre in Deptford is a charity committed to giving young, old and disabled people the chance to take part in a wide range of water-based sports. Sailing, rowing, racing and training for professional qualifications are just a few of the opportunities on offer.
Ahoy was awarded a National Lottery grant to pay for a Landrover with a winch, an all terrain wheelchair and, most importantly, a state of the art electronic winch which helps people with disabilities get in and out of the sailing boats independently and safely.
Before the winch was built, Sarah Howard, one of Ahoy’s regular volunteers, could not get onto the water at all. One centre user has a genetic condition called spinal muscular atrophy, which results in very weak muscles in her legs and arms. She could not lift herself into the boat, and it wasn’t safe for others to help her. Now, with the winch, she can lift herself up by sliding a sleeve under her legs. It scoops her up and lowers her into a specially adapted boat. She is in control of the winch at all times, and so is completely independent. She says, “Without the winch I would never be able to get on the water, let alone be at the helm of a boat and able to sail independently. Now I am doing a Royal Yachting Association level 2 sailing course, and hope that I’ll be able to teach others at Ahoy in the future. That would be a fantastic point to get to.“
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