Peterborough Sailability, based at Ferry Meadows in Nene Park, Peterborough, was founded in 2006 to offer people with disabilities living in and around Peterborough the opportunity to go sailing and enjoy the fresh air and sense of freedom that this brings.

One of its founder members - James Hopgood, a Rotarian - started the organisation after visiting a local Sailability Club and began activity at Peterborough as a retirement project. This year celebrates Peterborough Sailability being 15 years old, coinciding with James’s 80th Birthday. 

On Tuesday 21 July there was a socially-distanced celebration to mark both occasions. Richard Dykes, Secretary of Peterborough Sailability, said: “Peterborough Sailability is extremely happy to recognise James Hopgood as a founding member over 15 years ago, and proudly honour his 80th birthday in July 2020 by naming our newest boat ‘James Hopgood’. He has had his hand firmly on the tiller steering since its inception to become a successful Sailability outlet, regularly taking over 100 sailors with disabilities onto Gunwade Lake at Peterborough Ferry Meadows within the Nene Park at Peterborough. James was extremely proud to be part of the team when Peterborough Sailability was recognised and was awarded the Queens Award for Voluntary Services in 2018.”

James sailing the boat named after him 

Supported initially by the six Rotary clubs in Peterborough, Whittlesey and Oundle, the organisation has grown into a successful operation. Starting with just one afternoon a week, three sailing boats and six sailors in total, today it operates on two full days a week, with nine boats and more than 150 sailors.

There are now some 70 unpaid volunteers - some are qualified sailors, taking members out on the water, whilst others are shore-based, launching and recovering the boats, rigging and repairing boats and equipment, handling bookings, helping sailors get togged up in protective clothing and buoyancy aids, and generally being chatty and sociable!

To find out more about Peterborough Sailability, visit https://www.peterboroughsailability.org/

Sailability is the national programme run by sailing’s governing body, the RYA, giving people with disabilities the chance to try sailing and to take part regularly. The British network of more than 200 RYA-approved Sailability sites have boats and facilities to cater for people across the whole spectrum of abilities.

To find out more about sailing opportunities for disabled people once the current Coronavirus prevention restrictions are lifted, or those that need specific support to get on-the-water visit www.rya.org.uk/sailability.