Registered charity in England and Wales (1148600) and Scotland (SC051304)
Patron : HRH The Princess Royal
To ensure everyone can access the water with a safe, barrier-free, enriching experience.
Wetwheels offers a unique opportunity for disabled and disadvantaged people of all ages - including those with multiple, profound and complex impairments - to access the water.
Central to our experience is active participation - helping to broaden aspirations, increase confidence and directly impact on health and wellbeing.
We continually innovate through new technologies, and improve our experience through the excellence of our teams and feedback from participants.
We ensure a sustainable operation through a range of income streams, funding and support.
By 2025, we aim to support 12,000 people every year to participate in a Wetwheels experience across the UK, with the widest reach and awareness possible.
A Wetwheels experience challenges self-perceptions, extends horizons and opens up new opportunities. We ensure full wheelchair access to the boat - including a ramp to the steering position and adapted steering controls.
All are active participants, rather than simply passengers, with the opportunity to steer the vessel and learn seamanship alongside peers, friends and families.
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. 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.
The Wetwheels journey
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. In 2018 Wetwheels Yorkshire, based in Whitby and Wetwheels South East, located in Dover opened. Wetwheels South West launched in September 2020 based in Falmouth. The boat was supported by Sport England and we are now one of their strategic delivery partners for disability and inclusion. Our next boat will be Edinburgh later in 2022, and we are currently raising the final funds required to achieve this landmark.
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. Our 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'.
Read our latest Annual Report 2020.21 for our story over the past year, financial performance and vision for the future.
Read our recently published strategy - 'The Journey Ahead' - which outlines our long-term plans. These include new boat locations and widening participation, as well as the support we need to make this vision a reality.
Paul Strzelecki is a marine and sailing industry veteran and has recently become a trustee of the Wetwheels Foundation.
Paul has held many positions including Chairman of Henri Lloyd the company founded by his Father Henri and co-owned with his brother. During that time he led sponsorships of numerous events like Cowes Week and America’s Cup and individuals like Sir Ben Ainslie and Sir Robin Knox-Johnston.
He was a Director of British Marine for many years including a stint as Chairman of National Boat Shows and brings many years of experience both in the U.K. and Internationally.
Gemma Osgood is a clinical negligence solicitor at Clarke Willmott LLP in Southampton. She has over 12 years’ worth of experience in this type of work and has worked with many disabled clients and their case managers over the years to help them get compensation for their injuries.
Gemma’s work means that she is able to make a difference to those individuals whose lives have been affected as a result of negligence, and is something that she finds extremely rewarding and enjoyable.
Gemma grew up on the Isle of Wight and has always had a passion for sailing and being on the water from a young age. She raced competitively for many years, and currently races a Folkboat with her husband, actively competing in various events across Europe. In 2019 Gemma finished 5th in the Folkboat Gold Cup, and in 2011 she was awarded first lady helm in the XOD fleet at Cowes week, finishing 21st out of 146 boats.
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.
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.
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.