A new charity offering free cruises along the Grand Union Canal has been launched after its original funding was stopped.
Charity Crusader Community Boating offers free trips in the boat based at Blisworth Marina for groups of people of all ages who live with physical or mental disability or infirmity, including wheelchair users and elderly people living in care homes.
Originally funded by St John Ambulance Northamptonshire, the David Laing Foundation stepped-in to secure the boat’s future in 2013 pledging financial support for two years to ensure the service could be maintained.
This bridged the funding gap allowing the volunteer crew time to register their own charity and find alternative sources of financing the vessel.
Specially equipped, the Mountbatten Crusader is a wide beam boat which has been designed to carry guests along with their carers, to provide social and leisure opportunities.
To help fund the free service aboard the charity’s boat, the Crusader Community Boating has taken a limited number of private charter bookings and will also be running paid trips at the Blisworth Canal Festival (13-14 August) as well as supporting the Heritage Open Days in September.
Since 1994, over 83,500 passengers have benefitted from the service when the boating service was first started by a willing group of volunteers operating and funded by St John Ambulance.
The Mountbatten Crusader cruises run from the wharf at Blisworth to nearby Gayton Junction along the Grand Union Canal.
Accommodating up to 22 passengers plus crew the first passengers to take part in a trip under the new charity was a group of residents from sheltered-housing complex in Northampton.
The charity has recently launched a Friends of Crusader Community Boating scheme and welcomes anyone interested in helping to support its cause to join.
Go to www.crusadercommunityboating.org.uk/friends for more information.