Press Release from Tim Bell of the Even Keel Project:
This year has seen the all tide landing at Queenborough closed for EKPs’ use and the impact it has had on the Even Keel disabled sailing project has been rather significant.
Two years ago the community and businesses on the Isle of Sheppey and local areas rallied around to create a permanent site for the project with great success and a specially designed boat was purchased along with a secondary boat loaned from The Even Keel Project.
A sailing week with the fleet from the project started off the season with local dignitaries including the mayor, MP Gordon Henderson, Southern water, Swale heating, Queenborough Harbour Trust, Queenborough yacht club and a lot of the local community all in attendance offering their support in one way or another and the year went with great success with over 300 disabled, disadvantaged, local schools and communities using the facilities.
After the sailing week two boats were permanently available for the use by the local community which was run by a great team from the Isle of Sheppey Sailing club.
Sadly at the beginning of the year the landing became damaged and was put out of use to the project under grounds of safety but unfortunately it still has not been repaired significantly enough due to lack of funds and the project has had to stand by as it is the only deep water pontoon in the area that the project can use. Not only does that have an impact on the local community who had booked the boats out for the majority of the year but also the expectation and requirements from local funders and sponsors alike.
David Rutter founder of the project quotes ‘it is a real shame that the project has not been able to run this year, it took a lot of hard work from everybody to get the project up and running and the community was fantastic in its support, only for it to not be able to continue in its success in the second year. Having to turn down people wanting to go sailing is disheartening and has an impact on a lot of people. With this pause it will take a lot more effort to get the project back up to speed next year and that is dependent on the landing being in good repair. It’s sad to see the equipment available for use but not be able to operate and all the people wanting to use it, let’s hope we can get up and running again soon’
Alan Milton QYC’s representative has said “We put the All Tide Landing there and it’s been a marvellous facility but it’s also been a headache with the lack of support. There isn’t a plan in place for how to raise the money but appealed to people to come forward and help.”
Currently Queenborough Yacht club run the all tide landing and have very little funds to repair the landing.
Queenborough Harbour Trust have offered help and have been in talks with QYC to take ownership and have plans to raise the funds necessary to repair the landing but this has been rejected by QYC.
We hope a positive decision will be made for the good of the community and the EK project can get back up to speed and continue in the good its doing.
Perhaps this is something the people of Sheppey can do together, by working with QYC and QHT by offering their views and support to bring about a positive solution, so the All Tide Landing can be repaired for all to be able to enjoy in one way or another. Let QYC and QHT know your views.
Tim Bell [Sheppey Even Keel volunteer and Isle of Sheppey Sailing Club’s Rear Commodore]