The Innovate Trust, who are also celebrating their 50th
anniversary, RYA Cymru Wales and the Cardiff Harbour Authority have been
running the Sailability scheme through Cardiff Sailing Centre at Channel View
in Cardiff Bay for people with a disability go sailing in a safe environment.
People travel from all round South Wales, including
Professor Nigel Stott from Swansea who has been taking part for 6 years after
suffering viral myocarditis which led to a stroke while working at the medical
school in the University Hospital of Wales, Cardiff.
Another participant Gareth Williams has been taking part
most weeks throughout the 12 years the scheme has been running.
Steve Williams, acting participation manager for the
Innovate Trust, who was involved from the beginning 12 years ago, explained, “It
started in a new scheme called Venture Out.
“They had money from the lottery to purchase these dinghies,
which is where the partnership started with the Harbour Authority and Anthony
“We started it under the guise of accessible sailing. Around
half of those taking part are in a wheelchair, but it is no different for
people with learning difficulties or mobility issues. People can turn up
stressed, but then being out on the water relaxes them.
“It is brilliant for people. It was providing the community
in South Wales with something maybe they could not normally access.
“There is one gentleman Gareth, a wheelchair user, and the
only time he has not been here in the last 12 years is if he is on holiday or
ill. We have just had a letter from his mother Jill thanking everyone for
giving him joy.
“The training we have received through Anthony and his team,
with help from the Harbour Authority, Channel View and RYA Cymru Wales has been
excellent. It is great to work together, this is one of the best partnerships
we have ever had.”
The value of the scheme was backed by Mary Stott, the wife
of Professor Stott, who said, “Nigel sailed from the age of 12 and almost got
to national level in the Finn class, so this is much more gentle than he was
“We used to live in Cardiff so it is nice to come back from
Swansea, he does Bikeability cycling round our village, does hydrotherapy, so
he keeps very active. He is very physically strong for his age.
“Our son found this scheme six years ago and Nigel has
really enjoyed the chance to come back to sailing.”
His success shows the scheme can work for people who are experienced
sailors before a life-changing event, as well as those new to the sport.
Williams has no doubt about the benefits of sailing as a
sport. “I have been working in this area for 25 years and what we found was
people feel better when they are out in the community in the right environment
– your blood pressure lowers, you enjoy fresh air and just feel better,” he
“When they have
learned to control the boat themselves that independence gives them such a
boost through the good feeling of being in control. Learning a skill is a
“The calmness that comes from being out there is why we have
kept it going after lottery funding finished a few years ago, along with the
other activities we offer.
“We are celebrating 50 years this year in the Innovate
Trust. We celebrate the sailing every year, continuing to push this as an
activity we offer.”