Human beings are approximately 60% water. Not only is it our main component ingredient however, it’s also our original habitat. Our common evolutionary ancestors were aquatic beings- the water is our first home.
My seriously phobic friend Lisa aside, our connection can be witnessed in our infatuation with H2O. We love to listen to the sounds of waves crashing, we sing in the rain, splodge in puddles, sink into the bath for a treat or sneak our feet or hands into the kids paddling pool on a hot day to feel water’s gentle, cool flow against our skin.
To have the River Tees right in the heart of our town in Stockton is then a great gift. It waits, determinedly there, every day, for us to wander it’s banks, to fish, row or just generally mess about on and draw peace and energy from.
Yet access to the water is tricky and so that unique feeling of the breeze over your face, the sound of waves lapping at the side of your craft or the perfect peace and stillness that can be found afloat on the river can be cruelly restricted to those with reduced mobility. The water-loving folks of Tees Wheelyboats didn’t think that was entirely fair, so they set about changing it.
On Saturday morning we grabbed our camera, donned a life-jacket and climbed aboard their adapted craft, with a few of the their brilliant volunteers, John and Sylvia, to sail for an hour from Stockton to Preston Park. Well I say ‘climbed’, but that’s the point. We actually strolled on- the bow of the Tees Wheelyboat drops at the jetty- that means that access is literally open. A wheelchair can be rolled straight on and all the chairs are move-able and collapsible making accommodation changes by need easy and fast.
We didn’t get to see our local seal celebrity, who makes a star appearance on selected trips. Although I had spied him only a week back at the Barrage, he’d obviously clocked that- as a true professional he understood that one should always leave an audience craving more. Yet we did capture a feel and view of Stockton and river wildlife that I’d not experienced the same from the banks. John and Sylvia were packed full of local historical information pointing out how and where the river is embedded in our town’s history. I won’t ruin the stories for you they passed to us- but if you have your own they would love to hear them too.
The boat ran all day after we left to slip back into the hussle and bussle of the park on a bank holiday Monday. Running as it will be every Saturday for the season now- taking fundraising trips for donations from the pontoon at Preston Park up and down the river with anyone wanting to participate. They need everyone to know that they are here and open for business and raring to go for the summer season. If you can help with any of that please do by sharing this! They can also be found on Facebook here and on Twitter here.
If you fancy a ride meet them at Preston Park on a Saturday for one of their fundraising trips- open to everyone and all on these occasions- or you can contact them directly through their website here to book a special trip for a day.
Messing about on the River Tees – that’s Real Stockton.