It’s plain sailing for Hollybank sailors.
Dozens of profoundly disabled residents of Mirfield’s the Hollybank Trust have been enjoying regular sailing sessions at Otley Sailing Club.
But this year, as well as the usual Wednesday sessions, staff will also be able to take adults sailing on Mondays too.
Club member Mark Stephens, son of the club’s Senior Instructor Norman Stephens, will be sponsoring Hollybank for the entire year - paying fuel costs for two days a week.
He will also fund the year’s corporate membership fee through his Preston-based company Freightlink.
Stewart Geddes, enrichment project manager, said: “This is just fantastic news for us and will help to meet the high demand for sailing places. We can increase our numbers from 14 to 24 each week.
“We are so grateful to Mark for his donation and to all the club and volunteers for their support over the years.”
In preparation for the additional sessions this season four members of staff - Andy Powell, Farrah Roberts, Stewart and Mick Jackson - passed their Royal Yachting Association Safety Boat Training, which means they can rescue people from the water, if called on.
“We can now be more self-sufficient at the club because we have qualified staff trained to a very high standard now to be able to support people,” Stewart added.
“We had a wonderful season last year with lots of people trying the sport for the first time as well as established sailors.
“We are very excited that the new season has now started again.”
Hollybank’s residents, who are nearly all wheelchair users, benefit from sailing in many ways including the physical highs of feeling the wind on their faces, increased self-esteem and feeling of independence and freedom from their chairs.
Freightlink Director and co-founder Mark Stephens said: “We’ve had a relationship with Hollybank Trust now for some time and it’s one we want to continue because we see the value in education.
“The positive impact Hollybank has on the lives of many children and adults is something that should continue.”
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