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Disabled anglers across the South West and beyond can once again fish at Wimbleball Lake in Somerset, courtesy of a brand-new wheelchair accessible fishing boat and lockdown restrictions easing.The purpose-built angling boat, a ‘Coulam 16 Wheelyboat’, arrived at Wimbleball Lake in the Exmoor National Park in March 2020, but due to the national lockdowns, its use throughout last year was somewhat disrupted.But now, as Covid-19 restrictions ease, The Wheelyboat Trust, the Angling Trust and Wimbleball Fly Fishery are delighted to announce this Coulam 16 Wheelyboat is up and running, and ready for disabled anglers to use this spring, summer and beyond.Wimbleball’s new Coulam 16 Wheelyboat will enable disabled anglers and wheelchair users to access the clear waters of Wimbleball Lake and fish independently for top quality rainbow and wild brown trout, courtesy of renowned Rainbow Valley Trout Farm near Bampton.
In 2019 national charities The Wheelyboat Trust and the Angling Trust joined forces and invited fisheries and angling clubs throughout the UK to apply for seven part-funded Coulam 16 Wheelyboats, allowing disabled anglers with independent access to fishing sites across the UK. Now, one of these brand-new Coulam 16 Wheelyboats will call Wimbleball Lake home, joining others already in use on Farmoor Reservoir in Oxfordshire, on the famous Loch Leven in Scotland and by Cobbinshaw Angling Association also in Scotland. The funds for this project were generously provided by The Peter Harrison Foundation and Lord Barnby’s Foundation.Mark Underhill, proprietor of Wimbleball Fly Fishery, says: “With our new Wheelyboat, disabled anglers will be able to fish across the 374-acre Wimbleball Lake, exploring the many bays and inlets, all stocked with some of the best trout in the country. The new Coulam 16 will join the existing Mk II Wheelyboat, which was launched in 2005, as well as eight other Coulam-built boats already on the lake. "It’s fantastic that our growing fleet of Wheelyboats will be able to accommodate more disabled anglers, allowing more people to indulge in their passion for fishing. Given the challenges of last year, we are looking forward to welcoming familiar faces back to Wimbleball more than ever, and wish to invite those who are new to the sport to come and have a go too.”Andy Beadsley, director of The Wheelyboat Trust, said: “As a disabled angler myself, I know first-hand the enjoyment that comes from casting a line and whiling away a few hours on the water doing something you love, and how much this has been missed over the last year. "We’re delighted that another Wheelyboat will be calling Wimbleball Lake home and hope that many disabled anglers and hopefully those new to the sport too, will come and experience for themselves the joy of angling independently – especially as most of us spent most of last year indoors.”Dil Singh, Game Fishing Lead at the South West Lakes Trust, adds: “The provision of a new Wheelyboat for fishing at Wimbleball Lake fits perfectly with our aims at South West Lakes Trust to enable as many people as possible, of all abilities and ages, to enjoy themselves at our lakes. "Being outdoors and active and in particular taking part in fishing can have great benefits to peoples’ health and I fully support this great addition to Wimbleball Fishery.”Coulam 16 Wheelyboats are widely used on fisheries large and small across the country, along with more than 1,000 standard Coulam 15s and 16s that the Wheelyboat model is based on. Some of the benefits to disabled anglers include: • A hydraulic platform built into the floor for step-free roll-on, roll-off wheelchair access• Drive-from-wheelchair tiller helm• Space on board for three anglers including two wheelchair users• Designed primarily for angling on stillwaters, on the drift or at anchorThe Wheelyboat Trust currently supplies four models of Wheelyboat that provide disabled people with independent access to a wide range of activities on inland and inshore waters including angling, nature watching, pleasure boating and powerboating. All Wheelyboats are hand built and fitted out to order by Jim Coulam of boatbuilders Coulam Ltd having been designed by naval architect Andrew Wolstenholme.The Wheelyboat Trust relies on donations from individuals and organisations, and their work could not continue without the ongoing generosity they provide. To help get more disabled people out on UK waters, text WHEELYBOAT to 70085 to donate £5.To find out more about The Wheelyboat Trust, visit www.wheelyboats.org.Follow Mid Devon's Facebook page for the latest headlinesShine a spotlight on Bampton, Devon by becoming an Area Ambassador.Click here to learn more!
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