Wetwheels builds the confidence of our disabled participants by providing the opportunity to access the sea in a fun, safe, stimulating and rewarding way using specially modified, fully accessible powerboats.
With the support of our donors and partner organisations we provide barrier-free water-based activity experiences for disabled people on board our specially designed boats, from centres within local communities.
Our adventurous trips afloat are staffed by specialists who ensure each person can share experiences, challenge their self-perceptions, extend their horizons, and discover new opportunities.
Beneficiaries are active participants, rather than simply passengers, with the opportunity to steer the vessel and learn seamanship, alongside their peers, friends, and families. The experience is truly inclusive helping to improve aspirations and increase confidence.
Our own research tells us more than 80 per cent of Wetwheels’ disabled participants have never previously been on the sea. When asked why, the reason given is that the opportunity had not existed before. Disabled people can face particular challenges developing confidence, self-belief, self-worth and independence and many do not reach their potential in life. Most are very able but are restricted by low aspiration and lack of opportunity, which often impacts on wellbeing, the ability to live a full life and make a valuable contribution to society.
Wetwheels is an inspiring organisation where perceived barriers are reassessed, new skills are learned and new-found independence is discovered. Participants are able to have a single experience or return over time to develop new skills.
Wetwheels was conceived and founded by disabled yachtsman, Geoff Holt MBE. Our first boat, Wetwheels Solent, based in Portsmouth, made her debut in 2011. This was followed by Wetwheels Jersey in 2013, with Wetwheels Hamble launched in May 2016. Our latest Operational centres, opened in 2018, are Wetwheels Yorkshire, based in Whitby and Wetwheels South East, located in Dover.
Each of our local Wetwheels Operators is a social enterprise, registered as a community interest company (CIC), or the local equivalent (as in Jersey). Our Operators gain the advantage of the support of the Wetwheels Foundation, a registered charity, and a proven, successful, sustainable operating model.
Our skippers are fully trained and commercially endorsed, and our volunteer crew receive our bespoke disability awareness in a maritime context training. All our boats are certified according to the Maritime and Coastguard Agency's (MCA) Cat. 3 standards. We have a comprehensive set of standard operating procedures that meet or exceed all relevant legislation. This commitment to safety and quality of service delivery has led the MCA (our regulator as the government agency responsible for safety at sea) to declare us as the 'subject matter experts on taking disabled people to sea in small boats'.
In just a few short years we have taken thousands of disabled people on voyages of discovery. We now want to provide access to the water to thousands more by launching new boats in new communities. The next step will be to launch Wetwheels South West, to be based in Falmouth, in 2020. With your help we can achieve our vision.
We are proud to have HRH The Princess Royal as our patron.
Geoff Holt MBE DLFounder, Trustee
Geoff was paralysed in a swimming accident in 1984 and uses a wheelchair. In 1995 he became the inaugural Chairman of RYA Sailability. In 2007 he became the first disabled person to sail single-handed around Great Britain. In 2009 he sailed across the Atlantic Ocean unassisted. He was awarded an MBE for “Services to Disabled Sailing” in 2010 and named ‘Yachtsman of the Year’ shortly after. He was made a Deputy Lieutenant of Hampshire in 2012. He is a Council member of the RNLI. He is patron and ambassador for several charities for people with disabilities.
Geoff has 20 years experience in marketing & PR working for international accountancy firms Deloitte & Coopers & Lybrand. He holds a degree in Antiques and Auctioneering. He is the author of "Walking on Water" and is a professional speaker. In 2011 he founded Wetwheels
Andy Fell is an independent disability and assistive technology consultant with almost 20 years extensive experience of all disabilities and age groups.
Andy has worked with a wide range of charitable organisations including Guide Dogs for the Blind – where he was Head of Assistive Technology; emergency services, blue chip companies and various government departments including Job Centre Plus.
Among current roles he is a Senior Associate Trainer for the British Dyslexia Association and a National Disability Awareness Trainer for RYA Sailability.
David Parkinson is an established consultant, trainer and coach whose experience includes posts as charity chief executive and chair of multi-agency public committees. He has been working independently across commercial, public and voluntary sectors for the last 18 years.
David has arranged programmes of training and mentoring for 1,200 charity chief executives, involving commercial sponsors, and provided courses on leadership, personal effectiveness and presentation skills for the Met Police, Essex Probation Service and a supermarket graduate programme, among others.
He also provides commercial voiceovers, and has recorded several books for Audible.com.
Charles, who retired in 2016, was Director of Finance & Corporate Operations at Suzuki GB PLC. He served in a number of Finance & Commercial roles in his 28+ years with Suzuki and has a wealth of experience in Finance, HR, IT, Legal & Commercial matters.
In his retirement, Charles also serves on the Board of a real estate Company as Director & Chair.
Charles is a keen golfer and enjoys travel.
Alan is a seasoned Royal Navy officer (joined Sep 84) and RYA Yachtmaster (Ocean) and Cruising Instructor, with considerable senior leadership, sea going, maritime operations, SAR and aviation experience, including Command, and has operated across the spectrum of operations from tactical to strategic.
Well versed in defence and international relations, his recent career saw him serve at the highest strategy and policy levels, both in the Ministry of Defence and the British Embassy in Washington, DC.
Latterly, Alan was Head of Operations in a maritime headquarters, accountable for the safe delivery of a complex operational programme involving air, surface and subsurface assets in the highly congested sea areas along the South Coast of England, coordinating with other users and leading the RN’s response to any SAR operations in the region.
Ruth Johnson is an Associate Solicitor at Irwin Mitchell’s South Coast office. She acts on behalf of individuals who have been seriously injured through no fault of their own. She has expertise in claims resulting from brain, spinal and poly-trauma injuries to include amputations.
Ruth is the Secretary for the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers South of England Regional Group. She is ranked in Chambers and Partners 2014 as an Associate to Watch and is described as having good judgment and a really efficient approach.
Out of the office Ruth enjoys running and mountain climbing.
Trevor Phillips is a corporate communications specialist. He advises companies on their communications strategies, provides media training and acts as the liaison with journalists across both print and online media outlets.
Following a successful trading career in the City of London, over the last 20 years Trevor has advised a range of clients from high net worth individuals through to FTSE250 companies, although tends to specialise in the high net worth and entrepreneurial sectors where he assists in the development of smaller companies.
Trevor is a keen sailor and in addition to regular club sailing has also completed a number of offshore races.