Flying the flag for adventure

PUBLISHED: 07:00 02 June 2006 | UPDATED: 10:56 22 October 2010


A charity which can put the wind back in the sails of the disabled flagged up a new image at a big anniversary party yesterday.

A charity which can put the wind back in the sails of the disabled flagged up a new image at a big anniversary party yesterday.

For 21 years the Nancy Oldfield Trust has been using specially adapted boats to help the handicapped enjoy sailing on the Broads.

Yesterday the centre at Neatishead, near Wroxham, celebrated its coming of age with a new slogan - and some happy customers who can vouch for how taking the tiller can provide a new direction in life for the disabled.

Star guest was remarkable quadriplegic Hilary Lister, a 33-year-old who, despite being paralysed from the neck downwards by a degenerative nervous system disorder, sailed the English Channel solo - using two “sip-puff” straws to control a 27ft boat normally crewed by three people.

Sailing had transformed her life, explained the former biochemist and clarinet teacher from Kent, who praised for the trust for doing a very important job.

“It has given me my life again. It feels like flying. With sailing you're out alone in the wind and waves, with your own wings.

“All sailors sail because they love the freedom. But if you're confined to a wheelchair that thrill is magnified 10,000 times,” she added.

The solo sailor had approached the trust for a boat to use for the crossing, and although it could not help, the Norfolk charity was “a huge inspiration.”

She a visit to the trust was a “life enhancing experience” adding that sailing was thrill for anyone, regardless of handicap, and put the disabled on a par with the able bodied.

The Nancy Oldfield Trust, started by Richard Kenyon in 1984, aims to provide water fun to people with mental and physically disabilities, or who are specially disadvantaged. It provides sailing, canoeing and motorboating, as well as fishing and bird-watching.

Guests can stay for a week or weekend at a disabled-friendly waterside bungalow which sleeps 10, or visit for a day or half day.

The trust also has a purpose-built pontoon called the Ark, which has sheltered sating a toilet and kitchen so guests can stay ont eh water all day.

It marked its 21st anniversary with a flag raising ceremony yesterday, when new green and blue corporate clothing was also unveiled signifying a new modern image.

Trust centre manager Robin Slatter said its new slogan - Making Adventure Possible - suggested people could do “something exciting, different, unexpected, and relaxing that they had never thought would be possible.”

The trust wanted to reach out to more people with disabilities, particularly day visitors, who could “experience the thrills, sense of adventure and independence which could dramatically improve the quality of their lives.”

Contact the Nancy Oldfield Trust on 01692 630572 or

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