Norfolk's first ever accessible powerboat is launched

Poppy, the first ever wheelchair-accessible powerboat in Norfolk, being launched from Blakeney Harbour

Poppy, the first ever wheelchair-accessible powerboat in Norfolk, being launched from Blakeney Harbour - Credit: Brittany Woodman

A powerboat which will allow people with disabilities to enjoy Norfolk's stunning coastline has set sail for the first time. 

Poppy, a Coulam V20 vessel, is the county's first ever accessible powerboat and the UK's latest Wheelyboat. 

Polly Coke, Countess of Leicester, launched Poppy the Wheelyboat from Blakeney Harbour

Polly Coke, Countess of Leicester, launched Poppy the Wheelyboat from Blakeney Harbour - Credit: Brittany Woodman

Dozens of onlookers watched as she was launched by the Countess of Leicester from Blakeney Harbour on Friday (April 22) morning - with a number of delighted passengers on board.

Poppy is the product of a collaboration between the Royal British Legion's Blakeney, Cley and District branch, the Norfolk Charitable Trust and the Wheelyboat Trust. 

With a bow door which doubles up as a ramp for wheelchair users, she is poised to help countless people get out on the water - when they might otherwise have struggled.  

Poppy, a variety of Wheely Boat, is the first ever wheelchair-accessible powerboat in Norfolk

Poppy, a variety of Wheelyboat, is the first ever wheelchair-accessible powerboat in Norfolk - Credit: Brittany Woodman

One of those on the maiden voyage was John Pryor, who has Parkinson's and sold his own boat last year due to mobility issues in tidal situations.

"If you are disabled in any way and denied access to the water, this is an unforgettably wonderful experience," said the 69-year-old, who lives near Holt.

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"The boat is entirely open so it really is a full experience of being on the water. In fact, today it was a little windy so there was some sea spray which was quite fun and added to the ride.

Poppy, the first ever wheelchair-accessible powerboat in Norfolk, has been launched from Blakeney

Poppy, the first ever wheelchair-accessible powerboat in Norfolk, has been launched from Blakeney - Credit: Brittany Woodman

"I can see this boat bringing so much pleasure to so many. It is a very special addition to the north Norfolk coast."

Specialising in providing disabled people with freedom and independence on the water, the Wheelyboat Trust is a national charity which has been involved in the funding, design and supply of wheelchair-accessible boats for 38 years. 

More than 20 Coulam V20 boats have been built for projects across the UK since 2014, but Poppy is the first to be powered by both electricity and petrol.

Andrew Wolstenholme (left), who designed the Wheely Boat named 'Poppy', with Andy Beadsley, director of the Wheely Boat Trust

Andrew Wolstenholme (left), who designed the Wheelyboat named 'Poppy', with Andy Beadsley, director of the Wheelyboat Trust - Credit: Brittany Woodman

Andy Beadsley, the trust's founder and director, added: "This will make a huge difference. It doesn't take much imagination to realise that, for wheelchair users and those with mobility problems, getting on the water is very difficult.

"This really is the ideal craft to get disabled people out on the water and enjoying all the activities that everybody else takes for granted."

To book a place aboard Poppy, call Blakeney RBL on 07785731804.

Tom Harrison, secretary of the Royal British Legion's Blakeney, Cley and District branch

Tom Harrison, secretary of the Royal British Legion's Blakeney, Cley and District branch - Credit: Brittany Woodman

Poppy, the first ever wheelchair-accessible powerboat in Norfolk, has been launched from Blakeney Harbour

Poppy, the first ever wheelchair-accessible powerboat in Norfolk, has been launched from Blakeney Harbour - Credit: Brittany Woodman

Polly Coke, Countess of Leicester, launched Poppy the Wheelyboat from Blakeney Harbour

Polly Coke, Countess of Leicester, launched Poppy the Wheelyboat from Blakeney Harbour - Credit: Brittany Woodman

Duncan Baker, speaking at the launch of the Wheelyboat, 'Poppy', in Blakeney

Duncan Baker, speaking at the launch of the Wheelyboat, 'Poppy', in Blakeney - Credit: Brittany Woodman

The Revd Richard Lawry blessed Poppy before her launch from Blakeney Harbour

The Revd Richard Lawry blessed Poppy before her launch from Blakeney Harbour - Credit: Brittany Woodman