SECTIONS > Home Gloucester
Docks Sharpness Docks G&S Canal Vessels People Studies
STUDIES PAGES > Return
to Studies Index
Gloucester Docks &
Willow Trust is a charity that offers freedom for the disabled on
the water by providing days out for children and adults with learning
and physical disabilities and those who are seriously ill.
The Trust has two boats based at Saul Junction,
and guests can enjoy the excitement of adventure and the therapy
of tranquility in beautiful surroundings - all travelling totally
free of charge.
The Two Spirits
The Willow Trust's first boat, Spirit of Freedom, started
operating on the Gloucester & Sharpness Canal in 1991 from a
base at the Castle just above Parkend Bridge. She was joined by
Spirit of Freedom II in 1993, and the two boats then were
based at Saul Junction.
Both boats were specially built to take
up to 30 people with the severest disabilities. They are both fully
wheelchair accessible, and facilities include hydraulic lifts, disabled
toilets, large windows, central heating and full safety equipment.
In September 2003,
the original Spirit of Freedom was replaced by a new boat
named Leonard Matchan after the charitable trust that made
a major donation towards the cost. The naming ceremony was carried
out by Cmdr Cree, captain of HMS Gloucester, and the boat was blessed
by the Ven. Hedley Ringrose, archdeacon of Cheltenham.
Each boat is worked by a qualified full-time
skipper and three volunteer helpers. Each year they carry around
7,000 disabled and seriously ill people and their carers on cruises
lasting from about 10am to 3pm. Tea, coffee and squash are provided,
and guests are asked to bring their own packed lunches.
Nobody pays to use the boats as the whole operation is funded through
donations and fund-raising activities. These include sponsored walks,
concerts, theatrical performances, golf competitions and the sale of
Christmas cards. For more information, see the Willow
Trust website. To enquire about booking a trip, making a
donation or volunteering as a helper, contact Liz Rowland, The Willow
Trust, 11a Whiteway Court, Cirencester, GL7
7BA, phone 01285 651661.
Return to Top Menu Copyright
Hugh Conway-Jones 2004-12