A group of wounded, injured and sick veterans and loved ones from the Help for Heroes Recovery Centre in Colchester, Chavasse VC House, visited the canal boat charity Canalability on Tuesday, 12 January to see how the adapted broad beam boats can support recovery activities.
The trip to Harlow was an eye opener as the veterans and staff from the Recovery Centre were shown three adapted barges that have been fitted with lift access, disabled toilets and hoists to support getting in and out of bed.
Plans are now afoot to introduce day trips and group residential holidays on the canals and rivers to support the recovery pathways of injured Service personnel and their families. The slow speed of the boats and the closeness to nature, together with the social aspect of boating make this an ideal opportunity for supporting men and women with both psychological difficulties and physical injuries.
Georgie Friend, H4H Health and Physical Wellbeing Advisor based at Colchester said: “Access and inclusion is paramount as many of our wounded are amputees or wheelchair users, or have other physical injuries which make walking and standing difficult. This visit means we, at the Help for Heroes Recovery Centre, can broaden our offer of wellbeing support to our beneficiaries.”
One such beneficiary was Brendan Gordon, an H4H ambassador who has served in Northern Ireland. Brendan suffered a stroke five years ago and since then lost mobility down his right side, leading to loss of movement in his right arm. Brendan said: “It was great to be able to see how, with my physical injuries, I can still take part and enjoy something I used to do. It has given me the confidence to seriously consider canal boating as a holiday and a chance to get away for some peace and tranquillity.”