A wheelchair accessible Mk III Wheelyboat specially designed for disabled people is to be launched on Loch Ken at Galloway Activity Centre Tuesday 15th April.
Loch Ken is southern Scotland’s largest loch and is largely inaccessible to disabled people. However, Galloway Activity Centre’s new Mk III Wheelyboat will provide disabled people, their families, friends and carers with safe and independent access to the water.
Richard Herman, Director of Galloway Activity Centre explains more: “I am delighted that we are now able to open up this stunning loch to all abilities, there are other wheelyboats in the area, however this is the first one to be used for wildlife spotting and pleasure boating. My aim is to be able to share the wonder of the wildlife, including red kites, otters and lots of seasonal birdlife as widely as possible and being out on the water is a really special experience.”
The Mk III Wheelyboat is boarded via a drop down bow door for roll-on, roll-off access. The deck is open and level throughout with room for eight adults, including wheelchairs. It has a drive-from-wheelchair console giving people even with severe impairments the ability to helm the boat themselves. With thousands of acres of navigable water directly accessible from the centre, the Wheelyboat will be used for pleasure boating, nature watching, fishing, power boat training and instruction and as a support vessel for other activities. It will provide the centre’s disabled visitors with a level of independence and freedom unavailable in any other craft.
Andy Beadsley, Director of The Wheelyboat Trust said: “Being a wheelchair user myself, I understand how important it is for disabled people to take part in activities alongside and on equal terms with everybody else. Wheelyboats overcome the problems of access to waterborne activities and give disabled people like me freedom and independence on the water.”
Established in 1988, Galloway Activity Centre organises adventurous land and water based activities, courses and holidays for groups, families and individuals. It has a variety of accommodation from loch-side cabins and traditional campsite to tipis and a Mongolian yurt. The centre is wheelchair accessible throughout and a number of groups and organisations, such as South West Scotland RNR, Barnardos Scotland and Dumfries & Galloway Befriending Project, visit regularly. The all access facilities are excellent, there is an established disabled clientele and the management is wholeheartedly committed to the project, which will enhance the centres offering.