Charity back in swim

A GROUP of water enthusiasts have re-invented themselves and kept their canal longboat charity afloat. The Docklands Canal Boat Trust, formed in 1985 and involving one of the best known watermen on the river Thames, Dagenham s Len Faram, pushed out the

A GROUP of water enthusiasts have re-invented themselves and kept their canal longboat charity afloat.

The Docklands Canal Boat Trust, formed in 1985 and involving one of the best known 'watermen' on the river Thames, Dagenham's Len Faram, pushed out the boat literally at their annual general meeting, declaring they were back in business.

The charity, graced at their inaugural meeting in 1983 by Princess Michael of Kent, had been hit by the recession and came close to closure, but a new group of trustees, led by new chairman Brian Devlin, have put the canal longboat back in the water.

Open to disabled and special needs groups for day trips or holidays, the 70ft specially-built vessel, MV Challenge, has been refurbished and is waiting on the River Lee to take on more passengers.


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"I happened to come across this charity looking online of a boat that took the disabled," said Brian.

"The Trust had done a wonderful job for so long, but like other good causes things had got very tough with people standing down and they were talking about closing it. That would have been a terrible shame as there not enough of these good organisations around."

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Former NHS manager Brian joined the team and strengthened the trustees to nine with specialists as well as a team of voluntary helpers.

"The will is very much there now and we already have a number of bookings, but always room for more.

"The trips are very open. Most of our passengers are from disabled groups, but if a family with a disabled member can get the numbers up, then they can book a trip."

The MV Challenge can take 12 passengers on a day trip and 10 for a five-day holiday.

Moored in Leytonstone, trips are on the River Lee and the boat goes as far as Ware.

Anyone interested can contact Brian on 07902 926039.

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