Dutchie’s disabled sailing

ABOVE: Rob and Zac (left) enjoying their day sailing with ‘My Life’ carer Adrian Baker and skipper ‘Dutchie’. Image: Lynne Mowbray.

The disabled community in the Clarence Valley now have the opportunity to utilise activities on the Clarence River, thanks to the generosity of a keen yachtsman.
‘Dutchie’ (as he prefers to be known) has made his 26 foot yacht available free of charge to the disabled community and for the last 12 months has assisted the disabled by giving them the opportunity to enjoy the experience of sailing on our beautiful river.
“When I first came down here (to the Clarence Valley) from Mooloolaba in Queensland, I noticed a couple watching the boats on the river, with their disabled daughter,” said Dutchie.
“They were saying to each other that they would never be able to afford to do something like that with their daughter and I thought to myself, I could change that.
It took the yachtsman two years to prepare his yacht and get it inspected and checked by a shipwright.
Dutchie got in touch with ‘My Life’ (a branch of Caringa Enterprises in Grafton) who were very supportive and with the assistance of their carers, over the last 12 months they have had close to 20 trips out on the river.
“Matt Muir at the Yamba Shores Tavern has been fantastic,” said Dutchie.
“He has come on board by offering the services of his hotel and covering us under his insurance.
“He has a great restaurant there and his floating pontoon has been great, as its safe for the disabled.
“Matt’s assistance has opened up the lower end of the river to us.”
One of the ‘My Life’ carers Adrian Baker has been doing his job for around four years and says that it is very rewarding.
“You get a lot of satisfaction (from working with the disabled); they teach me as much as I teach them,” said Mr Baker.
“Opportunities like this (sailing) don’t come along every day and we are so lucky to have someone like Dutchie.
“He’s a good bloke, sharing his passion and giving these guys (the disabled) the opportunity to sail.
“There should be more people like him out there.”
A humbled Dutchie replied that this was not about him.
“These guys (the disabled and their carers) are the heroes,” said Dutchie.
“It’s about giving them the opportunity.
“To see the smile on their dial – that’s all the reward I want.”
Being able to transport the disabled to and from the yacht is a big problem and they are hoping there could be someone out there that could come on board and assist with the transport issues.
“We really need a vehicle that is fitted out for the disabled with a lifting device.
“We have a very giving community and if someone could come on board and help out with this, that would be awesome.”
If anyone can help they can contact Zac Page at ‘My Life’ on 6642 1280.

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