Edinburgh’s disabled war veterans set sail from Port Edgar

A seafaring charity that gives disabled war veterans the chance to access the water docked in Port Edgar this week, marking its maiden voyage to Scotland.

Friday, 21st May 2021, 4:55 am

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A 102 year-old former Royal Navy World War Two gunner from Corstorphine and a Royal Scots veteran from Prestonpans were among those who set sail on the specially built, fully accessible powerboat.

Harry Hogg, who joined the Royal Navy in 1938 proudly wore his medals when he came aboard accompanied by Royal Scots veteran Frank McLeod, 64, from Prestonpans.

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Royal Navy World War Two gunner Harry Hogg, 102, proudly wore his medals when he came aboard.

The trip was organised by Wetwheels, an all abilities sailing charity founded by disabled yachtsman Geoff Holt MBE in 2011.

Mr Holt, was paralysed in a swimming accident in 1984 and became the first disabled person to sail single-handed around Great Britain in 2007.

He said: “Disabled people like Harry and Frank face many obstacles to an active lifestyle and particularly in experiencing the sense of freedom and independence you only get on the water.

“Yet the physical and mental benefits of being on the sea are immense so I am really excited to be at Port Edgar Marina to raise awareness of our Wetwheels charity and to showcase the amazing work we do.

The seafaring charity WetWheels, that gives disabled people a chance to sail, has docked in Scotland for the first time.

“There is no other boating organisation for disabled people in the UK doing what Wetwheels does.

“That’s a very big claim, but as a wheelchair-using yachtsman and adventurer myself, I speak from experience.

“Our own research tells us that more than 80 per cent of Wetwheels’ participants have never previously been on the open water. For an island nation, that’s a shocking statistic we are determined to change.”

By visiting Port Edgar Marina, Mr Holt hopes public and private donors will be inspired to help raise the further 75 per cent of funding still required to secure the first Wetwheels Scotland vessel based permanently in Port Edgar Marina.

Keen local sailor Peter Finlayson, 25, from South Queensferry, who has cerebral palsy, also came onboard Wetwheels with his father Calum.

The charity already has six vessels in operation throughout England, including in Portsmouth, Falmouth, Jersey and Whitby.

Mr Holt hopes it’s new venture will help more than 1,000 disabled people in Scotland experience one of its seafaring experiences each year.

The project has earned the support of many disabled groups in the city including Sight Scotland Veterans.

Director of services at Sight Scotland Veterans Clair Bryan said: “It’s fantastic that veterans supported by Sight Scotland Veterans have been given the opportunity to have this experience with the Wetwheels Foundation while they have been stationed at Port Edgar this week.

“Sight Scotland Veterans very much supports and identifies with the Wetwheels Foundation’s mission to create accessible and inclusive experiences for disabled people.

“Sight Scotland Veterans is dedicated to supporting veterans with sight loss across Scotland to not only adapt to life with sight loss, but to live well with sight loss and continue to enjoy new experiences in the community.

“We would very much welcome a Wetwheels boat being permanently based in Scotland. I am sure other veterans with sight loss we support would relish the opportunity to take a boat trip with the Wetwheels Foundation in the future.”

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