Shop workers at Peterborough’s Queensgate make ready to swap sales for sails for charity

Queensgate staff and participants at the Sailability Centre, Ferry Meadows last year.  Picture by Terry Harris. THA
Queensgate staff and participants at the Sailability Centre, Ferry Meadows last year. Picture by Terry Harris. THA
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Staff at Peterborough’s Queensgate shopping centre are swapping sales for sails by lending a hand to a sailing charity.

Colleagues from the centre will be on standby to help Peterborough Sailability, a charitable organisation based at Ferry Meadows that helps local people with disabilities learn to sail.

Last year, the centre became the largest organisation in Peterborough to provide voluntary support for the charity, with 30 members of staff togging, rigging and repairing.

This year, 48 volunteers will be at Ferry Meadows between June and September, logging an impressive 430 hours of total volunteering time.

From helping with bookings to launching the boats, volunteers are vital to the smooth running of the sessions which can see up to 85 people sailing in one day.

Mark Broadhead, the recently appointed centre director for Queensgate, will be volunteering his services on August 20.

He said: “Having recently joined the Queensgate team, I am thrilled to carry on the important partnership with Sailability.

“Supporting this local charity is a fantastic cause, and I am proud that so many of the Queensgate team are giving up their own time to get involved.

“We are all so excited to do our bit to help.”

Launched in 2006 and now in its ninth successful year, Peterborough Sailability runs sailing sessions on Tuesdays and Thursdays from April until October at Gunwade Lake in Ferry Meadows.

The charity provides people with disabilities the chance to enjoy the experience of sailing, and even improve their skills via the RYA Sailability certificate of achievement scheme.

Bob Bailey, head of operations for the Sailability centre and owner of Reflections Coffee Shop in Queensgate, added: “We are currently in our ninth year of Sailability and I am so proud of everything we have achieved.

“It gives such freedom to people who are often bed or wheelchair bound, and a real sense of achievement and empowerment, as well as providing respite for their carers.

“The range and spectrum of people we see each week never ceases to amaze me.

“With sessions running from 10am until 4pm on Tuesday and Thursdays, we can take almost 200 people out on the water each week.

“It is hard work, of course, and the help the Queensgate staff provide is immensely valuable to us.

“I can’t even explain how grateful we are to each and every one of them.

“They are always helpful, friendly and hard-working, and the response this year has been marvellous.

“I hope that this partnership continues for a long time.”