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Posted: Wed, 24 Jul 2019 10:30


A 77-year-old Little Billing woman, who had a stroke four years ago, says learning to sail at Northampton Sailability is "The best thing I ever did!" after sailing solo for the first time.

Sally Evans lost the sight in the corner of her left eye and walks with a crutch following a bleed at the back of her brain in 2015. But Sally feels she got her life back when she was introduced to her local disability sailing group at Pitsford Reservoir last year.

After returning to Pitsford, and continuing to learn the ropes and sail in a boat with more experienced sailors earlier this year, Sally took the helm on her own for the first time last month. Having also recently spent a week away on the Norfolk Broads with Northampton Sailability, she can't believe the transformation in her life.

Sally said: "What can I say about my first solo sail? I felt elated and like I had my life back again. I am sure my late husband was looking down saying "Good on you girl!"

"A friend at my church, who is a Sailability volunteer, told me about Sailability and said I should come along. It was the best thing I ever did. It presented a chance get out and meet people and to try something new. The first time I was on the water it made me feel alive and that was such a good feeling. I wanted to carry on because of the freedom it gave me, and I was excited to think I could actually sail."

Northampton Sailability is part of the national RYA Sailability programme, which supports people with disabilities to take up sailing and other boating activities, encouraging a lifetime habit of activity. Sailability runs at Pitsford from April to October, offering opportunities for people across the whole spectrum of physical and mental abilities to get on the water, from 'joyrides' to teaching to RYA standards in dinghy and keelboat sailing and racing.

Sally, who had done windsurfing and water ski-ing but never sailed in the past, has achieved her RYA Level 1 Start Sailing certificate and is already well on her way to gaining Level 2. But for her, Sailability is about so much more than just sailing.

She added: "I most enjoy the peace and quiet of being on the water and I find I am challenged too. For me, Sailability means good company. I have made many new friends and look forward to every Monday knowing I am going sailing. I can highly recommend joining Sailability for friendship and the feeling of freedom."

To discover how RYA Sailability is about #morethansailing visit www.rya.org.uk/sailability and to find out how you can get involved at Northampton Sailability go to the club's website.

Tags: Disability Sport, Featured, Sailing


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