Accessible Boating Association is based on the Basingstoke Canal at Galleon Marine in Odiham.
On 2nd June 2020 it became public knowledge that the Association had been granted the Queens Award for Voluntary Service. It’s a huge honour and acknowledges the efforts put in by all our volunteers for over thirty years of operating.
Given the current circumstances that we are dealing with, there is degree of irony in being granted this highly prestigious award, against the backdrop of not presently being able to operate our boats.
The Association caters for those people who cannot enjoy a canal cruising experience on a standard boat due to either lack of physical capability to access a boat and or mental disabilities that prevent social interactions with others. By providing two specially adapted boats that have hydraulic lifts, the Association provides the freedom for these people and their carers to get on and off boats safely and securely and to experience a cruise in beautiful surroundings. It is, as well, an opportunity to spend time in a different location which is both tranquil and therapeutic. Throughout their trip, passengers are guided and assisted by their carers and the teams of trained volunteer crew members. Nature along the canal is abundant with many species of flora together with herons, ducks, swans, moorhens and kingfishers being frequently seen and creating much excitement. Socially, the Association provides opportunities for people with communication difficulties and physical limitations to interact with others. A balanced boating usage of the canal also contributes to the overall environmental wellbeing of the canal so that it remains fit and sustainable for all users.
Every one of the crews and helpers are volunteers. They interact throughout a cruise and create such a lovely environment that one care home brings four residents on every public trip that operates and they run three of four times a month. The aim of the Association is to promote the canal as a wonderful recreational facility, a place to spend time and to generally improve one’s sense of wellbeing. There are testimonials from our customers who consistently say how pleasant and relaxing their cruise was, how helpful and friendly the volunteers were, and how well they were looked after.
The Association works consistently to keep the boats well maintained and safe. They contribute to keeping the canal open for navigation and staying abreast of the legislative requirements. The volunteer base comes from many walks of life with varied experiences and the Association takes care to understand the backgrounds of their people and to align their capability with the Association’s needs. For example, maintenance is overseen by retired RAF technicians together with a retired IT project manager and a scientist who worked at Farnborough for many years.
For the future, the Association is considering provision of a new boat. Both the vessels are over twenty years old and such things as environmental issues and sustainability figure largely in these plans. Consequently, we are looking at the design of an electric boat and whether the power needed for the vessel to operate can be provided along the canal. The technical backgrounds of the volunteers play an important part here. Our promotional activity focuses on contacting a very diverse market and we have a communications officer who is coordinating all our many activities in this area of our work.
We always have opportunities for more people to be involved and would be delighted to hear from anyone who is interested in learning more. The first step being to get in touch with our Chairman via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.