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Veterans take to the waves in a pioneering new boat

PUBLISHED: 18:57 12 July 2019 | UPDATED: 18:57 12 July 2019

Care home residents take a trip on the Wheelyboat PICTURE: Matthew Cooper

Care home residents take a trip on the Wheelyboat PICTURE: Matthew Cooper

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Four veterans from a care home took to the waves in a pioneering new vessel.

The Wheelyboat enables Cromer pensioners to take powerboating courses with greater ease PICTURE: Matthew CooperThe Wheelyboat enables Cromer pensioners to take powerboating courses with greater ease PICTURE: Matthew Cooper

The residents were trialling a new wheelchair accessible boat, departing from Morston Quay to see the Blakeney seals.

The Wheelyboat has a fold-down wheelchair ramp in its bow, enabling wheelchair users to board. In future, they may also be able to take the helm in powerboating courses.

The passengers from Halsey House Royal British Legion care home in Cromer were sung off from the quay with a specially written shanty from Blakeney singers The Old Wild Rovers. On their return, the pensioners were treated to afternoon tea.

Event co-ordinator Charly-Louise Hurst said, "We're excited to have had a successful trial launch of this brilliant craft.

Disembarking from the boat is made easy for Stella Read PICTURE: Matthew CooperDisembarking from the boat is made easy for Stella Read PICTURE: Matthew Cooper

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"For us, to be able to offer this opportunity is a real game-changer, particularly in and around Blakeney, which is such a beautiful area. To make that accessible to more people by opening up the water is such a rewarding thing."

The four passengers of the trial voyage were all enthusiastic and enjoyed the experience. Stella Read, one of the passengers, said "It was absolutely amazing, and wonderful to see the seals in their natural home.

"Something like this should be available for people like us".

John Chapman, another wheelchair seafarer, agreed: "It opened up a whole new world, it was wonderful to enjoy the beautiful harbour."

A carer at their home, Allison Allan, said "It was fabulous to see the smiles on their faces, they'll be talking about this for months!".

Blakeney, Cley & District Royal British Legion are raising funds to make the boats available for rest breaks for veterans and their families.

The Wheelyboat, previously seen on BBC Countryfile, was originally made to provide for disabled anglers. Patrons include the Duke of Roxburghe, Jeremy Paxman and Sir Matthew Pinsent.

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