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12 October 2008

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River trips for mobility impaired


Lifestyle | Article

Key Ferry


Key Ferry Cruises, which operates the popular river trips in Peterborough, has announced ambitious plans to build a new 60-seater passenger boat. It would incorporate ramped access for wheelchair users and people with mobility difficulties, together with a disabled toilet and lowered panoramic viewing windows. Other facilities will include flexible seating arrangements, an all-weather saloon, open-air deck, licensed bar and galley.

The news is released following a recent article in the Evening Telegraph about improvements to the Embankment area. Owner Bob Currell (Captain Bob to his guests!) told the ET, “There is a real momentum gathering pace around improving the Embankment area. It’s still early days on this project but it seemed appropriate to let people know where we’re at with it.”

According to a recent survey, around half the population enjoyed recreation on or near water during the previous 12 months (1). The mental and physical benefits of water based activities are well documented, and with an ageing population it’s widely agreed how important it is to enable access to facilities for as many people as possible who want to enjoy those benefits.

For many years now, thousands of passengers have been enjoying trips on board ‘Mandolin’, the firm’s existing boat, based at moorings next to the Key Theatre. Social clubs, organised groups, private parties and business users all find it an ideal venue for a whole host of diverse events.

However, anyone who cannot manage stairs is unable to benefit, since 2 steps up and 5 steps down have to be negotiated to enter the passenger saloon. The boat does not have disabled access and is physically incapable of accommodating the lift and toilet that would be required.

‘Mandolin’ was built over 20 years ago and she remains in all other respects a lovely boat. She could carry on for perhaps another 30 years or so as she is – but, of course, without disabled access.

Funding for a new boat is a major issue, with around £100,000 having to be raised. “We have produced a detailed briefing paper,” explains Capt. Bob, “ and are now looking into grants and sponsorship deals that may enable the vision to become a reality. We would, of course, welcome any approaches that may help.”

It seems that the possibility of river trips for mobility impaired people is at an interesting point. It could happen very soon - or not at all for 20 or 30 years.

March 2007 - Peterborough UK Community Website

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