Voluntary Work


Eight or so years ago I wanted to get involved in something that didn’t mean being paid as it felt like a different part of us gets liberated by voluntary work. Having not really done so before this, it was only a theory!

I had just been on a weekend sailing trip as a volunteer with visually impaired people, and whilst walking the dog I met a woman from the village and was saying how much I had enjoyed it.

Her eyes lit up and she said you must phone Elizabeth T from the Woolverstone Project as she would love to have to have you there.

Excited but unenlightened, I did as suggested.

Elizabeth T turned out to have been one of the founders of this amazing organisation. She was indeed encouraging and said to go to Alton Water near Ipswich on the following Monday morning.

I had never been to this fresh water reservoir so arrived at 10am and saw a beautiful expanse of water surrounded by trees and green  land, and was shown around by the motor boat operator of the day.

The physical excitement in my cells was like electricty.

Here were specially adapted boats in which people could learn to sail alone or with buddies. The weather was good, the volunteers and sailors really welcoming and interesting, and I knew that I had found something that set my spirits alight.

Any sailor needing assistance would wave a yellow flag, and in time one was spotted from a sailor on a “challenger” boat.

This craft has three hulls and cross bars, and the sailor sits facing forward within the middle hull. I had been watching these boats parting the water at speed, and was amazed.

The motor boat operator (MBO) asked if I wanted to go with him to see what was needed and I climbed in.

As a sailor I also love motor boat speed, which isn’t always the case, and so the thrill of the wind and spray was exhilarating.

We arrived and found that the problem was that one of the lines had become stuck.

Climbing onboard the middle hull I tried to fix it while the MBO returned to base for tools.

Sorting the problem before he returned I said to linda, the sailor, the memorable words “sail me back”, and from that day to this I have been hooked.

It is a win, win situation. I get to be around boats that I love, without having to pay for their upkeep, and people with a variety of disabilities get to sail.

I became a trustee and then, I believe because I am very comfortable in public situations and can chair meetings, I was asked to be Chair!

There is a great team of people who continue to make this project run and we are now in the 20th year. I love that people take shared responsibility and the sailors who come are able to have the physical experience I have from the wind and the water.

Who knows where this work will lead but I do know that I love the combination of hands on work and PR aspect that lets me pass the experience onwards.

Below are links to the project and video’s of a couple of events.





2 thoughts on “Voluntary Work

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