Sunshine & Smiles at Regatta for the Disabled

The sun shone all day and so did the continuous smiles on the faces of visitors of the Regatta for the Disabled in the Paddock at Phyllis Court Club on Saturday.

Visitors could enjoy boat trips, Punch and Judy, magic shows, live music, a climbing wall, soft archery, jewellery making, circus skills, face painting and a petting zoo.  The boat trips were hosted by Rivertime Boat Trust which offers wheelchair access and on Hobbs of Henley captained hire boats.

On the river, teams took part in the bell boat racing and at lunch time there were demonstration rowing races in adaptive rowing boats from Marlow Rowing Club for the first time in the event’s 14-year history thanks to Bruce Lynn and Malcolm Selway.

The bell boating organised by the Eyot Centre was very competitive in the less-able bodied teams with The Chiltern Centre, Style Acre, Mencap Meteor Club and Bowley’s Boaters competing. In a closely contested final The Chiltern Centre narrowly beat Mencap Meteor Club. Matt Eggleton volunteer with The Chiltern Centre celebrated the win by jumping into the water at the finish line. They were presented with the Carolyn Molyneux cup at the end of the day.  Carolyn was one of the original founders of the Regatta who sadly passed away last year.  Meteor Club were presented with the runner-up paddle and Bowley’s Boaters were award the Most Enthusiastic Team Award. Phyllis Court Club were presented with the Most Enthusiastic able bodied team award as they still boated despite having no one to race as unfortunately regular team entrants Bird in the Hand pub had to pull out the day before due to illness.

Certificates were also presented for the winning times on the rowing ergos at the presentation ceremony.  The event ended with singing and dancing to Abba’s Waterloo and Queen’s I Want to Break Free.

Deputy Mayor Councillor Kellie Hinton visited the Regatta.  She said, “It was great to visit the R4D again with my family and really good to see it still going so strong after a few years of Covid and of course losing key members of the committee in recent years too. We really enjoyed ourselves. Other than watching some of the races, we particularly enjoyed cuddling the animals in their pens. We wanted to take the cute pigs home with us. We also loved the archery and the climbing wall. It’s evident from attending the event how popular it is and what a lovely addition it is in our local calendar of regattas. Some might say we save the best regatta until last!”

Visitor Catriona who came for the first time said “It’s been a fantastic afternoon.  The boat ride was amazing and the guy was really friendly.  It is really well organised and I would definitely recommend it.”

Chair of the Regatta for the Disabled Committee said afterwards, “A supporter of Regatta for the Disabled has messaged me to say ‘Your event is the best event of the year because it’s so rare to feel part of our SEND community’. This sums it up for me. Regatta for the Disabled is about giving disabled people and their families and friends a day out enjoying everything the river has to offer. Accessible river trips and land activities in a beautiful setting give people a really good day out. This year we also enjoyed seeing some elite adaptive rowing which is something we would certainly be looking at doing again. Huge thanks to the Committee, Eyot Centre, Phyllis Court  Club for making this day so good.”

The date for next year’s Regatta for Disabled will be on Saturday 7 September 2024.


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