Sailability - A Life Changing Experience!

Hello, I recently attended the national Sailability conference at Wyboston Lakes and we were asked if would submit our experiences of Sailability, so here goes.

My name is Gary Flint I am confined to a wheelchair and have been for 30 years, as a result of an accident, which meant I became a quadraplegic. I am not going to go into what quadraplegic means, we can all Google, or use Safari or use a lesser known internet search engine that might ask you if you ever had a PPI during your lifetime. Anyway, it means significant parts of my body do not function or function normally.
Guess what, this is the same for a lot of people so lets’ turn the sympathy meter to zero and get on with it. I never dwell on what I have not got but what I have.

I will use the D word. I am disabled, our culture and insane interpretation of political correctness makes this word so difficult to use and makes engaging between the able and the disabled with a degree of nervousness that should not exist. To wake up and appreciate every morning is enough for me and a good way to start the day and I will never take this for granted. Yes, some days are harder than others but there are always ways to get the best out of what you have been dealt and so long as you have a determination to succeed with the ambition to drive this along we can all get there.
This is what I have found with Sailability. I became a member at Carsington Sailability in July 2016, never before setting foot in a boat. This became a life changing experience for me and my wife. Life changing does not adequately describe Carsington Sailability, it is more than that it is life affirming. Never as a collective group of volunteers have I seen so much commitment, diligence, friendly, enthusiastic, caring, helpful….I have run out of adjectives. These people help so many different groups, from single sailors such as me to organised groups facing physically, mental and social challenges. They make the hard tasks seem so easy and they will get anyone on the water in an assured and safe way. Carsington Sailability are smile issuers, the volunteers put the fun back into the lives of people who have forgotten how to enjoy themselves. In my own experience, having spent more time with the Club, the reward I get from seeing visitors who have spent the majority of their lives within a clinic environment actually out on the water feeling nature around them is amazing. Carsington Sailability takes these people from gazing out of the window to gazing in.

What is incredible about the Club is how Carsington Sailability is integrated within the general sailing club. This owes a huge debt of gratitude to the Commodore, the Manager and Management Committee and all the Members. The entire club is one huge family. I have met some new people who I am sure will become lifelong friends and I am already stocking up a supply of cherished memories. I attend the Club on Saturday with my wife and Wednesday by myself. When I am on my own I never feel isolated or nervous of my situation. A Sailability staff member gets me in and out of my car, they help me get my equipment on, hoist me in and out of the boat and the Club Galley staff helps with my dinner and drinks. Now if they could only tuck me in at night with a mug of cocoa I would be sorted.

This is just my example and I am sure I am not unique or that Carsington Sailability is unique but in a world of sceptics, doubt and negativity it is so inspiring and such an honour to be associated with such a tremendous group of people. 

Thank you

Gary Flint