Brian Middleton Award for Young People with Additional Needs

'An opportunity of a lifetime' for 5 young people, aged 12 – 18, with physical and/or sensory impairments, to learn how to sail at Bisham Abbey Sailing School, Marlow, from 30th July to 3rd August 2018.

In 2005, District 1090 decided to make an annual award in memory of Rotarian Brian Middleton of Reading Rotary Club, because of the work he did with groups of young people & particularly those with disabilities. 

This award has previously been used to send one young person, aged 18 – 30, away each year on an activity break which was specifically designed to meet their additional needs, either with The Jubilee Sailing Trust or the Calvert Trust, an outward bound centre.

For 2018, a different approach was trialled.  This year up to 5 young people, of secondary school age, with physical and/or sensory impairments were selected to form a group who then learned to sail, using specialised equipment & with appropriately trained instructors. The specialist boats include those specifically for users with disabilities such as Cerebral Palsy, amputation, dwarfism, spinal injuries. On the successful completion of this course, they then had the opportunity to continue to meet up & to sail at Bisham Abbey with The Accessible Boat Club on Sundays throughout the season. (The Accessible Boat Club is part of The Rivertime Boat Trust which is  already supported financially & practically by many Rotary Clubs)

One of the ideas behind this group approach was to get back closer to Brian’s original model of Rotarians supporting young people with special needs in a practical way.  The involvement of sponsoring Rotary Clubs is not financial, as the course is fully funded, but in supporting the young person & their family during the course.  In addition to the specialist & volunteer staff, additional help is needed shoreside & in covering lunch breaks.  Help may also be needed with transport.

The Sailing School took responsibility for interviewing potential candidates & for completing a detailed assessment of their needs & suitability, plus all insurance & H&S issues.  There is a safety boat on the river for all activities & a hoist is available at this fully accessible site.   All specialised equipment is provided.

Soon after this, places were offered & a more detailed assessment made about the help/support needed from Rotary Clubs during the week.

The course proved extremely popular with the 3 young people who participated.

Decisions are still being taken on how to run this course next year - watch this space!