Quadriplegic adventurer completes circumnavigation of UK

Geoff Holt in the driving seat of his WetWheels boat

Quadriplegic adventurer Geoff Holt, founder of Wetwheels, has completed a circumnavigation of the UK. Holt, who was supported by Henri-Lloyd, took 26 days and covered some 1,880 nautical miles.

“This is possibly my biggest challenge to date,” says Holt. “Having spent 40 years in a wheelchair, paralysed from the chest down, the sea has been my salvation, the freedom and independence I get when I am afloat, I can forget about my disability. My biggest hope is we can inspire more disabled people to join us for an experience on Wetwheels. Hopefully this will also inspire people to raise money to achieve my dream of acquiring another four Wetwheels boats, making a total of 12 around the UK.”

Holt completed the record-breaking circumnavigation (becoming the first quadriplegic to circumnavigate GB in a powerboat), and raised £80,000 of his first £300,000 target in the process. He’s got an ultimate goal of raising £1.2m for the Wetwheels Foundation, a charity he set up in 2011 to enable disabled people to access the sea barrier-free in purpose-built, state-of-the-art motor boats.

Paralysed in a swimming accident in 1984, he’s spent the last 40 years in a wheelchair. In 2005, he was supported by Henri-Lloyd to sail around the Isle of Wight, and in 2007, he became the first severely disabled person to sail single-handed around Great Britain. In 2010, he was the first quadriplegic to sail across the Atlantic Ocean unassisted.

Holt and his team were equipped with the latest technical fully waterproof clothing, warm mid and breathable base layers from Henri-Lloyd, as they embarked on their expedition, calling at 17 accessible ports around the country including eight Wetwheels locations.

“I know from my experience what it is like to spend many days and weeks at sea, when being warm, comfortable and ultimately safe is essential,” says Knut Frostad, executive chairman at Henri-Lloyd. “To be doing this when you live with physical disability and unable to move makes having the right protective clothing absolutely vital. Henri-Lloyd has enjoyed a very long relationship with Geoff and we are honoured to be part of his success, in what he is calling his final disability adventure, raising vital funds for The Wetwheels Foundation.”

Currently the Wetwheels Foundation, a registered charity whose patron is HRH The Princess Royal, has a fleet of eight vessels around the UK and aims to add another four as a result of this challenge. It offers opportunities for disabled and disadvantaged people of all ages — including those with multiple, profound and complex impairments — to access the water in custom boats designed specifically for wheelchair access. Guests are active participants, rather than simply passengers, with the opportunity to steer the vessel and learn seamanship alongside peers, friends and families.

Holt was awarded an MBE for Services to Sailing in 2010 and named ‘Yachtsman of the Year’ shortly after. Along with being a patron and ambassador for several charities, he is also a motivational speaker. Alongside Henri-Lloyd, headline partners supporting this challenge included Stelios Philanthropic Foundation, RS Marine Group, Hugh James and Raymarine.

Henri-Lloyd recently announced it’d found a new COO. Simon Payne was appointed in May to work alongside executive chairman Knut Frostad. Payne’s role focuses on managing and increasing sales including distribution, wholesale, licensees, e-commerce and retail.

One response to “Quadriplegic adventurer completes circumnavigation of UK”

  1. Simon Hedley says:

    Great work Geoff! Such an acheivement and a superb cause!

This article was written and/or edited by the UK-based MIN team.

Skip to content