For the second year running I was asked by Emsworth Business Association chairman Thomas Giles Babb to conduct its charity auction at the Brookfield Hotel.
Each year the EBA selects a local charity and this year all proceeds would be donated to The Wheelyboat Trust, a charity that provides boating experiences for disabled people.
Based in the Emsworth-Chichester-Langstone area, the trust is aiming to inspire other charities around the country to follow its lead and purchase a Wheelyboat for the local community.
Being a local lad with fond memories of growing up by the sea, being on or around water is something I probably take for granted. But one doesn’t consider how frustrating it must be for disabled people who want to enjoy the same marine experiences and opportunities as able-bodied people.
Having been involved with some of the military charities such as Help for Heroes and BLESMA, I have been humbled by the courage and determination of soldiers faced with adapting to life without one or both limbs.
Returning to the aims and objectives of the Wheelyboat Trust, I feel privileged to know Geoff Holt, the first quadriplegic sailor to singlehandedly circumnavigate the British Isles and later cross the Atlantic.
At the age of 18 in 1984, already a promising sailor with his whole life ahead of him, Geoff was injured in a diving accident in the West Indies.
Geoff and I both studied the same Fine Art Valuation degree at Southampton Solent University and he did me the great honour of appearing with me on Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is.
On the night of the EBA auction I was assisted by Conservative parliamentary candidate for Havant, Alan Mak, who ‘banged the hammer’ when the bidding reached a climax.
The most popular lot of the night was the Magnificent Seven, dinner for two in seven of Emsworth’s best restaurants, including 36 on the Quay, Fat Olives, The Bluebell, Nicolinos and The Brookfield Hotel.
The auction raised £3,685 and a great night was had by all. But I think some guests must have had their sea legs on already judging by the way they were staggering on their way out!