A Shoreham based charity, which provides opportunities for people with disabilities to go sailing, has celebrated the renovation of a well-used Paralympic boat.
Sussex Sailability launched the 23ft keel boat, which is named Josh, at an event at Sussex Yacht Club in Brighton Road on Saturday attended by the members of the group, councillors and Tim Loughton MP.
Kevin Headon, a trustee of Sussex Sailability and vice commodore of the sailing club, said: “It was fantastic.The boat looked great and everyone was really keen to get out sailing it again.”
The ‘very special’ boat was orignally bought by the charity from Paralympian Andy Cassells, who won gold for Great Britain in 1996.
It was named Josh after a young man who had cerebral palsy, who had sailed with Mr Cassells at Cowes Corinthian Sailing Club.
The boat has undergone a complete refit, which took around four weeks, carried out by a local boat builder.
The ‘stable and forgiving’ vessel has had several adaptations fitted over the years to make it suitable for people with disabilities to use.
It is one of several boats used by the charity, which has been running for around 18 years and takes more than 400 people with disabilities out sailing every year.
Mr Headon said of sailing: "It’s one of the few sports where people of all genders, all ages and all disabilities compete on an equal footing.”
Around 80 volunteers help run the charity in Shoreham.
A long-serving volunteer, James, who recently died, was honoured at the event by having one of the boats named after him.
The dentist from Brighton, who was also a channel swimmer, regularly took people out sailing for the charity.
After the event Mr Loughton said: "I was really pleased to see what a great job Sailability is doing in extending sailing to people with disabilities and how far the charity has come since the original Lottery grant I was happy to support.
"I was particularly impressed to meet some of the young volunteers who play an integral part in giving opportunities to disabled people young and old alike and clearly benefit hugely from the experience themselves and I would urge more people to get involved.
"It is great to see how disability sailing has become such a mainstream activity particularly since being included in the Paralympics as a full sport from 2000 and the Sussex Yacht Club is doing a great job to encourage our Paralympians of the future."
Find out more about Sussex Sailability here