The new addition to Northumbrian Water’s fleet was launched at the Jack Charlton Disabled Angler’s Cup – a popular fly fishing and bait fishing competition held annual at Leaplish Waterside Park.
From now on, disabled anglers at northern Europe’s largest man-made lake can hire the Coulam 16 Wheelyboat, which has been specially designed for big stillwater fisheries.
The boat’s wide open deck can easily accommodate two wheelchair users and a companion. Boarding is via a ramp from bank or pontoon onto a hydraulic platform that lowers the angler to deck level.
Northumbrian Water’s leisure manager, Kevin Hudson, said: “Access and stability on water the size of Kielder is vital and we’re delighted to provide the new Wheelyboat for our customers.
“It has a huge advantage over standard Wheelyboats in that it looks and performs like all the other boats in our fleet. Previously the Wheelyboats differed in size, shape and design, potentially making disabled anglers feel conspicuous and at a disadvantage.”
Alistair Corps-Bell, said: “The weather was perfect – great conditions for drifting. It was slightly overcast and breezy so I’ve had a great day fishing and meeting Jack just topped it off.”
Jack Charlton added: “The Disabled Angler’s Cup at Kielder is one of my favourite events of the season. The new boat is a superb addition to the fleet and gives complete easy access and manoeuvrability. I’m very impressed.”
The boat cost £8,500 and Northumbrian Water’s contribution was matched with a £4,000 donation by The Wheelyboat Trust, a registered charity that promotes and provides wheelchair accessible boats to fisheries and other waters around the UK.
Able bodied and disabled anglers wishing to book boat at Kielder can do so for £23 for a full day. Boats must be booked in advance by calling 01434 251 000.