Winter training programme commences

10.1As the colder days settle in, Belfast Lough Sailability (BLS) is getting down to serious training sessions so that there will be more qualified instructors to enable and support those with disabilities and disadvantaged through circumstance to enjoy ‘on the water experiences’ in the 2015 season. The action happens in the sheltered waters of Belfast Lough off Carrickfergus Marina on the group’s specialised fleet of boats.

This training is provided by qualified senior instructors – Robbie Richardson and local to Carrickfergus Borough are Colin De Fleury and Richard (Skippy) Robinson. The training programme was organised through the BLS RTC (recognised training centre) principal another local man, Jim Hetherington and we would like to congratulate our local newly qualified instructors, Geraldine Duggan, Iain McAllister and Jenna Todd – not forgetting Graham Moucka who lives further afield. Help and support was also provided by disabled sailors Elizabeth Black, Kerry Mussen, Carrickfergus couple Kevin Johnston (wife Marion also assisted) and Jonny Gruhn, who are themselves in training for qualifications. Elizabeth Black commented

10.2“I would particularly like to thank the Belfast Lough Sailability instructors and sailors who so willingly give up so much of their time, when they could be enjoying their own sailing, to teach those of us to sail.”

Elizabeth, a wheelchair user, is an instructor in her own right and ran a Disability Awareness course for BLS and other local candidates on Saturday 1st November ably assisted by Bill Foster (no sight). Thanks go to the Telecommunity Fund for grant aiding the training. A First Aid course was also run by another local man Colin Craig so thanks Colin and all the instructors for their invaluable support.

BLS would also like to thank the Department of Social Development NI who ran a coffee morning in early November to help with funds. A cheque for over £1,300 was presented on Monday 10 November to BLS volunteers.

10.3DSD Financial Management Branch employee Donna Henderson said that the idea germinated from a volunteering visit to BLS during the summer as part of the ‘Business in the Community’ scheme, during which they undertook maintenance work, and assisted with a group visit from Mitchell House School, Holywood.

For more information on how to become a volunteer with Belfast Lough Sailability and information on Disability Awareness Courses, contact us.