Children with serious health needs have a ‘Mermazing’ time at award-winning sailing event

Posted on the 6th August 2019

Over 50 families with children who have exceptional health needs took to the water this weekend in a ‘mermaid’ themed sailing event at Carsington Water Sailing Club, Derbyshire on Saturday, 27th July thanks to national children’s charity WellChild.

The award-winning ‘Sailability Summer Splash’ was the inspiration of Dr David Thomas who is a Consultant Paediatrician at Nottingham Children’s Hospital. Dr Thomas is a keen sailor and member of Carsington Sailing Club. The annual event was named ‘Most Inclusive Event’ at the Accessible Derbyshire Awards at Chatsworth House last November.

This was the fifth year running Dr Thomas decided to team up with WellChild to organise the event because his years of professional experience have highlighted to him that sailing has a lot to offer children who have serious health, and often complex care needs. This year’s event was ‘Mermazing’, with mermaid-themed activities such as mermaid crafts and a treasure hunt.

Among the many other on shore activities, families were able to set sail, have a picnic and enjoy entertainment from local children’s entertainer Mrs Sparkle.

The event, which was free to attend, included specially designed access boats for children and young people with disabilities with expert crews and specialised equipment to help sailors in and out of boats.

“Children living with serious health needs, like many of those here today, are often denied the opportunities that most other children and young people get. So to see them out on the water with big smiles on their faces is what the Sailability Summer Splash is all about. It just gets bigger and better every year.”

Dr Thomas

WellChild Head of Family Services, Hannah Bemand said: “Sailability is a fantastic opportunity for families from the area to meet, have fun and take part in a great event. Families caring for a child with serious health needs can often feel isolated and alone. Through events like this and WellChild’s growing Family Tree network, families who are all facing similar challenges can come together to have fun, make good friends and great memories.”

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