The Disabled Sailing Association (DSA) is a Torquay-based sailing charity, run for the disabled, by the disabled and their aim is, wherever possible, to give everybody, no matter what their disability, the opportunity to enjoy the experience of seagoing sailing in a safe and pleasurable environment, and to encourage them to be involved in an activity that many believe they are excluded from.
The DSA runs on volunteers, some of whom give so many hours a week, ashore or afloat, as to be the equivalent of a full-time job. Their reward is the thanks they receive from all the disabled people who experience the magic of sailing, many for the first time. Once afloat and sailing across the Bay some of our ‘passengers’ are free from the many limitations they contend with on shore. However, the word ‘passenger’ is wrong as everyone is encouraged to be active, not that they need much encouragement.
‘Volunteers are needed throughout the year to help raise funds and to enable many of the activities listed in our Diary to take place’ says Howard Cheadle, editor of the DSA newsletter. ‘So please, don’t be shy; any offers of help whether to be on a stand for a couple of hours, or to take responsibility for organising one of the special events set out in the diary, please come forward. Just email, phone, text or write to the office. Having volunteered myself to help on the shore-side activities I can assure you that not only will it be fun, you are likely to benefit in other ways. You will meet other like-minded volunteers from which friendships may grow.
And in my case, I have imprinted in my memory, a young lad, about thirteen years old I would guess, hovering at the edge of the stand at Paignton Harbour festival. My assumption he was looking for leaflets or freebies could not have been further from the truth. I asked him if I could help and he told me he was his father’s carer. His dad suffered from a disabling and degenerative disease. He thought his Dad would love to go out on the water as a break and could we help. Makes you both humble and grateful.’
For loads more information you can visit https://www.disabledsailingassociation.org.uk/
Bob Jope Healthwatch Torbay
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