Mayor in the seat of power

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Mayor of Truro Steven Webb takes to the water Photo PR4 PHOTOS

23rd June 2021

By Juliet Lunam

Truro Mayor Steven Webb has been taking to the water to try out a service recently launched in Cornwall. Wetwheels South West, launched in September 2020 in Falmouth, offers people who are disabled and disadvantaged the opportunity to access the water on powerboats.

Not only can they ride on a catamaran, which is fully accessible, with a ramp to the steering position and adapted steering controls, they get the chance to steer the vessel and learn seamanship, alongside their peers, friends, and families.

Wetwheels says active participation is central to helping broaden aspirations, increase confidence and directly impact on health and wellbeing.

A spokesperson said: “With support from so many volunteers, donors and partner organisations, our adventurous trips ensure each person can challenge their self-perceptions, extend their horizons and discover new opportunities.

“Our own research tells us more than 80 per cent of Wetwheels’ participants have never previously been on the open water - which is something we want to change.

“In a few short years we have taken thousands of disabled people on voyages of discovery.” Mayor Webb was invited aboard and described his experience as something he will never forget. He said: “I have to be honest, I was terrified at the thought of driving my electric chair over a ramp to get onto the boat.

Having broken my neck diving into a swimming pool, falling into the water is one of the things I fear most. But the whole experience felt very safe and the crew was amazing.

As for the experience out on the water the feeling of freedom and the healing nature of the sea stayed with me for days.

They were brave enough to let me pilot for a while and on the return journey, they opened her right up. I don’t think I’ve ever been so fast on water. It was just brilliant.

We watched the seals from a safe distance, so as not to disturb them, and the feeling of calmness was something I will never forget.”

David Rodgers, from Wetwheels said Cllr Webb’s views gave a good insight for the team about how it feels for the participants. He added: “We hear a lot how the feeling of being in control of the boat and being given the responsibility of the boat is really empowering for our disabled passengers as well as the feeling of being free on the water. One passenger we had out said he felt free from his disability when he took the helm.”

To find out more about Wetwheels email info@ wetwheelssouthwest.co.uk or call David Rogers on 07889 275 907.

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