Portsmouth sailor launches bid to offer disabled people harbour tours

From left - John Bagnall, Karen Read (Wetwheels Solent), Geoff Holt (Wetwheels founder), John''Harris-Burland (MindWorks Marketing), George Cheeseman (Suzuki Marine)       Picture: Pete Lisle
From left - John Bagnall, Karen Read (Wetwheels Solent), Geoff Holt (Wetwheels founder), John''Harris-Burland (MindWorks Marketing), George Cheeseman (Suzuki Marine) Picture: Pete Lisle
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BOLD plans have been outlined to give disabled people from across the nation the chance to take to the water and tour Portsmouth’s historic harbour.

Disabled sailing hero Geoff Holt has revealed his ambitions to create the first water tour that would cater specifically for those disabilities.

But to make the project a success, Mr Holt and the partners behind the project – named Wetwheels Maritime Adventures – need to raise £100,000.

Paralysed Mr Holt has previously been honoured by the Queen for his work in helping disabled people take to the sea through his Portsmouth-based company, Wetwheels.

Speaking of the latest scheme, during a launch event at Portsmouth Guildhall, he said: ‘This project will, for the first time, showcase all that Portsmouth Harbour has to offer, for disabled people of any age and background.

‘Wetwheels’ boats across the UK allow many hundreds of disabled people to enjoy wonderful times on board, in a fun, safe, and stimulating environment.

‘Wetwheels Maritime Adventures will give hundreds more previously excluded people the chance to experience life on the water as well as showcase Portsmouth Harbour by way of interactive tours and a guide to significant points of interest, with inclusion, excellence and innovation at its heart.’

Geoff and the team behind the proposal are looking to raise £50,000 this year to help get the scheme on the water.

Then, they hope to drum up a further £50,000 in 2019.

The cash would pay for 100 Maritime Adventures, reaching between 400 and 500 disabled people.

It would also help fund the upkeep of Wetwheels Solent, which is based in Gunwharf Quays, paying for the maintenance and purchase of equipment and training of staff.

Two businesses, Suzuki Marine and MindWorks Marketing, have already thrown their weight behind the effort.

Mr Holt said the fundraising bid was challenging but achievable.

He added: ‘There is something very special about being on the water.

‘For someone with a disability, being at sea offers unparalleled freedoms.

‘Paralysed from the neck down in an accident at the age of 18, I have maintained the belief that anything can be achieved given a positive approach and the support to help make that dream a reality.’

Other businesses are now being urged to offer their support to the bid. To help, email neil@wetwheelssolent.co.uk or call 07814 149162.