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13 December 2018

New boat makes sailing more accessible for aged and disabled

Filed under: Latest News

More aged people and people with disabilities on Brisbane’s northside will be able to enjoy being out on the water after Sailability Shorncliffe was gifted a new wheelchair-accessible pontoon boat.

The 6.2m vessel which was christened ‘Grumpy Walker’ earlier this week, was donated by Mt Pleasant Masonic Lodge and Hand Heart Pocket the Charity of Freemasons Queensland. Having raised $5,000, the Lodge looked to Hand Heart Pocket, who initially matched their efforts, before providing an additional $50,250 to bring the initiative to fruition.

Sailability Shorncliffe President Ted Balneaves said the customised boat will be a huge asset to the organisation, which celebrated 10 years last year.

“We had wanted to get one for some time. Our clients, many of whom have limited mobility, can now be wheeled straight onto the boat, compared to being transferred into our sailing dinghies with a winch and sling,” Ted said.

“The pontoon boat can hold up to eight seated clients or up to four wheelchair-bound clients and four seated clients, with two crew members,” he said.

“They might not be able to touch the water because of the height of the boat, but they’ll still be able to feel the wind in their hair and take in the sights and sounds around them, as they sail along Cabbage Tree Creek.”

As for Mt Pleasant Lodge, this was the perfect way to make a difference while honouring the memory of the late Ron Walker – who was a member of their Lodge and a past president of Sailability Shorncliffe.

“It’s been said that Ron had three passions in life – Sailing, Sailability and Freemasonry. It was very moving to see the Grumpy Walker in action, knowing that we had played a key role in making this happen,” Mt Pleasant Lodge representative Mike Mifsud said.

Hand Heart Pocket Chief Executive Officer Gary Mark commended Mt Pleasant Lodge for bringing this initiative to his organisation’s attention.

“Support for initiatives that help to improve the quality of life of the aged, aligns with our strategic charitable intent. By partnering with Mt Pleasant Lodge, we have been able to get this initiative over the line, so that more aged people and people with disabilities are empowered to lead better lives,” he said.

Photo: Hand Heart Pocket Chief Executive Officer Gary Mark, Sailability Shorncliffe Treasurer Phillipa Bolt, Mt Pleasant Masonic Lodge representative Mike Mifsud and Sailability Shorncliffe President Ted Balneaves.

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