Wetwheels to launch eighth boat in 2024
Wetwheels will launch the eighth boat in its fleet – Wetwheels Torbay – in Devon in spring 2024.
The Hampshire-based charitable foundation provides disabled people access to the sea in a safe, stimulating and rewarding way, on board specially-built, fully accessible powerboats.
Having already given more than 50,000 disabled people the exhilarating opportunity to spend time on the water onboard specially built, fully accessible powerboats, the charity is expanding to meet an increasing need and demand.
The new boat has been supported by The Ashton family from Devon. “I grew up with the sea in my blood; I was on it, in it and under it,” says James Ashton. “From a very young age, I was drawn to the sea and luckily home, on the River Teign Estuary in Devon, was within a good cast of a fishing line and is where I now live today.
“Following a successful career and early retirement, I thought boating and the sea were within reach of unlimited bliss. Sadly, in the same month I retired, I was diagnosed with MND.
“Today, I need 24-7 care from two carers and am permanently attached to a ventilator to keep me breathing. I can’t move any muscles and only communicate with an eye gaze computer which has enabled me to write this.
“Thundercat is my own accessible boat and, in May 2021, a whole new chapter of boating opened up, and it has exceeded all expectations. This July, I even hosted a Hawaiian party on Thundercat with a guitarist to entertain.
“My desire was to leave a legacy so others, not ordinarily able to access the sea by boat through illness or disability, could enjoy the immense pleasure it brings. With the support of my wife, Joanna and our two teenage boys, Sam and Monty, I decided to donate funds to enable a new build for Wetwheels from Cheetah Catamaran. With scrutiny and guidance from my former business colleague of 20 years and friend, Russell Smart, we achieved this goal.”
Holt welcomed James’s wife Joanna, and sons Sam and Monty, to the Southampton International Boat Show event and took them for a ride on the water on board Wetwheels Solent.
The recent Solent Platinum Jubilee celebrations in August helped raise £12,000 for the Wetwheels Foundation, which will all be used to help more disabled people access the water.
“We are looking forward to working with the local disabled community and partner organisations when Wetwheels Torbay is launched. We could not have done this without the generous support of the Ashton family.
“James shares my understanding of the importance of being on the water as a disabled person. He also shares my vision of getting more disabled people to share this exhilarating experience of riding in a powerboat. I want to take this opportunity to express our deep thanks and appreciation for the support we have received to make this dream a reality.”
The seventh boat in the fleet, Wetwheels Edinburgh, is due to arrive in Port Edgar soon, to enable even more disabled people to access and experience the open water, barrier-free.