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01 September 21

Affinity Water teams up with a national charity to help disabled people participate more fully in water sports

Affinity Water has provided the facilities for the charity Access Adventures to use on one of its lake to enable those with disabilities to participate and enjoy water sports to their full abilities.

The Charity uses Heron Lake, at Wraysbury, in Middlesex for a range of watersports including waterskiing and wakeboarding and is now working with Affinity Water to improve these.

Waterskiing and wakeboarding is life-changing for many people with disabilities and gives participants an increased sense of freedom, boosts confidence and challenges expectations.

Anna Jarmolinska-Nowak, Corporate Social Responsibility Manager for Affinity Water said: “The goal is to make waterskiing & wakeboarding inclusive and accessible for all. We sincerely hope that by supporting Access Adventures and giving those with disability the opportunity to use Heron Lake, more widely we will be encouraging people to try out and participate in watersports. It’s fantastic to team up with Access Adventures and hear about the work they have been doing to bring sports to disabled people particularly after seeing so many powerful performances by disabled athletes at the Tokyo Paralympics. A small step now for disabled participants in water sports can lead to so much more in the future. We hope we can help raise the ambitions of disabled sports people.”

The Lake is on a long-term lease to Access Adventures and provided for free. Affinity Water has a history of over 20 years support to similar organisations on site including the British Disabled Waterski & Wakeboard Association (BDWWA).

 

Jane Sowerby, Founder and CEO of Access Adventures explained:

“Adaptive sport essentially means adapting a sport that’s traditionally for able-bodied people, so that people with disabilities can take part. This might include using specialised equipment, improving site access, or exploring slightly different teaching and communication methods. We are delighted to be partnering with Affinity Water by using Heron Lake and its facilities to the fullest possible advantage. It will provide our participants with improved facilities and open up new opportunities for some. We want to thank Affinity Water and we look forward to working with them.

“Speaking from personal experience, adaptive waterskiing completely transformed my life following a spinal cord injury. That adrenaline rush was exactly what I’d been missing! I believe passionately that sport can have a powerful positive impact. The Access Adventures crew loves introducing people with disabilities to waterskiing and wakeboarding. It’s incredible to witness the huge smile the first time an individual gets behind a boat, doing something they never thought was possible!”

Jane on a wakeboard

Hannah Tomsett, aged 31, an Access Adventures participant said:

“It has given me so much more confidence, friends and enjoyment out of life. It is so much more than just the sport. On the tough days, I know another adventure is out there to be had, and that keeps me pushing through the dark days. Having had so much fun myself, I would love for people to share the benefits and experiences I have had! Keep going with all the hard work, it is so appreciated and truly life enhancing!”

Hannah standing on a water ski

Yasmin Somers, aged 21, recalled how happy water sports had made her:

“I just wanted to say you guys and the lake have really made my summer! I’ve had the best time so thank you. You should be really proud of the atmosphere you’ve created. Access Adventures has made me the happiest person, I would not be where I am mentally and emotionally without it.”

Yasmin water skiing

NB: Our photographs show Jane on a wakeboard; Hannah on a stand ski and Yasmin (red hat) waterskiing.

 

More about Access Adventure

Access Adventures ran its first camp in May 2015 and was registered with the Charity Commission in Aug 2015. The activities are designed to challenge expectations and build self-confidence. Research has shown that taking part in sport and having regular exercise can help improve the quality of life for people with disabilities.

The foundations for the British Disabled Waterski & Wakeboard Association (BDWWA) were laid in on 1st July 1978. Founded by Tony Edge, who became an amputee during the war, the charity supported hundreds of people with disabilities over the years and created world class facilities at Heron Lake. In 2019, trustees and members decided to merge Access Adventures with the BDWWA.

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