Charity donation secures extra hoist for disabled sailors in Suffolk

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EAST has helped Alistair Renton and his son Andrew sail togetherImage source, EAST
Image caption,
EAST has helped Alistair Renton and his son Andrew sail together

A sailing charity which helps disabled people has raised enough money to secure a second hoist.

A donation of £5,000 helped provide the extra mechanism for East Anglian Sailing Trust's (EAST) pontoon, based at the Suffolk Yacht Harbour.

The hoist helped people in wheelchairs, or with restricted mobility, to be safely lifted into and out of vessels.

Sailor Alistair Renton said it meant his disabled son felt "equal to anyone else in the boat".

"Andrew, because of his condition, there are very few things he can do. He can't walk," he said.

"He doesn't need his legs in the boat. He can still steer the boat, he can see what the sails are doing. It equalises people."

Image source, EAST
Image caption,
Andrew Renton prepares to be lifted into into a sailing boat using a hoist

Andrew Renton said he did not get nervous being in the air while being hoisted into a boat.

"I'm fine, I've done it so many times. I love to steer," he said.

EAST is run exclusively by volunteers for the benefit of blind people and those with disabilities in East Anglia.

The charity has a fleet of open keelboats, and sonars, acquired from the Paralympic racing team.

It also regularly arranges cruises for its blind members, with the support of local cruising boat owners and skippers.

Skipper Brian Quinton said a second hoist would allow more people to take part in sailing.

"Our sailors that need hoisting into the boat can get on board very safely and comfortably, and ensures we are able to get our boats out on time and have a couple of hours sailing on the river," he said.

Mr Quinton said some using a hoist for the first time may find the experience "a little unsettling" but that the hoist team would do all it can to look after the sailors.

"Most will have a sling on their wheelchairs and we will with dexterity and care, attach the hoist to their sling and put them into the boat wherever they want to sit,," he said.

Image source, EAST
Image caption,
Alan Davies has been able to return to sailing more easily with the help of a hoist

Alan Davies, who is almost 90, has used the lift to return to sailing.

"EAST has given me a new aspect of life, to go back to sailing which I've been doing since I was 16. Now it's go, go, go," he said.

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