[A] Lake District charity which helps people with learning disabilities learn to sail has marked its 25th birthday out on the water, with a huge celebration on the iconic Windermere ‘steamer’ MV Swan – which has itself just turned 80 in recent weeks.
To mark the double celebration, Windermere Lake Cruises gifted an evening (20 July 2018) on board the historic vessel to Blackwell Sailing. The aim was to honour the volunteers, supporters and participants who have helped build the charity from a single sailing dinghy in 1993 to an RYA (Royal Yachting Association) training centre and Sailability Centre of Excellence, welcoming people from across Cumbria.
Blackwell Sailing was set up by dinghy sailor David Hall, who wanted to introduce sailing to adults with learning disabilities, in order to extend their experience of the outdoor environment and develop their social skills. However, over recent years the participants have been extended to include children and those with other kinds of disability.
Windermere Lake Cruises has been an active supporter of the charity over the past quarter of a century, with the company’s former Chairman Raymond Dennison involved in helping Blackwell Sailing get off the ground in the early days.
Founder of Blackwell Sailing, David Hall, says, “MV Swan was a unique setting on which to celebrate the contribution made by a committed group of volunteers and supporters, who have helped us with everything from teaching to transport and maintenance, cleaning and administration. These people are the lifeblood of what we do and are genuinely making a difference to the lives of others.
“It seemed fitting that we could mark our special birthday on a vessel which also celebrates a milestone year this summer, and we’re very grateful to Windermere Lake Cruises for helping us bring this event to life.”