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Setting sail to reach out to more people

Hemel Hempstead MP Mike Penning officially launches the new boat at Reachout Plus. Picture by Geoffrey Shalet.

Hemel Hempstead MP Mike Penning officially launches the new boat at Reachout Plus. Picture by Geoffrey Shalet.

A good cause that provides canal trips for disabled people and the disadvantaged is hoping to touch the lives of more people than ever with the launch of a new boat.

The purpose-built boat, which can hold up to 40 passengers, or 17 people overnight, is being loaned to Nash Mills-based ReachOut Plus by the Neighbourly Charitable Trust.

Named the Sheldrake III, it cost £200,000 and joins the waterways charity’s fleet of three boats – two can hold up to 12 and the other is a holiday boat that accommodates eight.

ReachOut Plus director Ron Overton said: “This opens up a whole new opportunity in terms of providing better services for more people.

“We want to work with more people. We currently welcome around 3,000 people a year onto the boats. We want to increase that to 4,000 by the end of 2013.”

The good cause, tucked away in Red Lion Lane, Hemel Hempstead, works with young people, along with those with disabilities and special needs. It is used by around 200 different charities and community organisations.

Patron of the charity Hemel Hempstead MP Mike Penning officially launched the Sheldrake III during a special reception on Thursday.

He said: “It gives people an opportunity to experience everyday enjoyment even though they have disabilities, and that is what equal opportunities is all about.

“The environment on the canal gives them such an eye opening experience.”

The little known charity, which has been going for 30 years, is working to raise its profile and would welcome new volunteers to help out on the boats, in the office or with fundraising.

Find out more at www.reachoutplus.org or call 0845 216 0080.

 

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