Royal approval for Queen Mary Reservoir's Sailability club

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HRH Princess Anne (2)

Thames Water’s Queen Mary Reservoir received a royal seal of approval from HRH Princess Anne when she visited to celebrate Sailability’s 20th anniversary.

The Princess Royal was shown around the reservoir and introduced to some of the charity’s volunteers and members during the celebrations on Thursday, June 29.

Queen Mary Sailability, which is based at Queen Mary Reservoir near Heathrow Airport, first opened its doors in 1997 and offers hundreds of disabled adults and children the opportunity to enjoy watersports such as sailing.

Kirsty Halford, from Thames Water, attended the event said: “It was a privilege to welcome HRH Princess Anne to the reservoir to celebrate Sailability’s 20th anniversary.

“Sailability is a great charity that provides brilliant services to both adults and children alike who otherwise would not have access to watersports, and Thames Water is delighted to be able to offer the reservoir to the charity, to help it thrive and continue its important service.”

During the event, Princess Anne, who is also president of the Royal Yachting Association which helps run Sailability, presented a certificate to Janet Horsfield, who finished second in a global race last year, and was also introduced to a Paralympians Alexandra Rickham and Mike Browne, who represented Team GB at Sydney 2000, Beijing 2008 and London 2012 respectively.

HRH Princess Anne (3)

Several presentations and demonstrations were then held to explain the importance of the charity, and the services it offers, before Princess Anne cut a ceremonial birthday day and unveiled a commemorative plaque.

A naming ceremony was also held for ‘Zingaroo’, the club’s new Drascombe Longboat which has been modified to allow wheelchair users access.

Alan Woolford, chairman of the Queen Mary Sailability club, said: “Twenty years on RYA Sailability continues to encourage and support people with disabilities to take up the sailing and boating.

“Many go on to enjoy sailing on a regular basis, and we hope the new boat will help more, like Alexandra and Mike, to make it to the absolute top level in our sport.”

RYA Sailability offers thousands of disabled children across the country the opportunity to enjoy watersports such as sailing, and works from 178 recognised sites across the country, including Queen Mary Sailing Club.

The club caters for those who have physical, sensory and learning disabilities, and meets regularly from April to October. For more information visit: www.queenmary.org.uk/sailability.aspx