927. Geoff Holt
Geoff Holt MBE, from Fareham, is a disabled yachtsman who founded ‘Wetwheels’, an organisation giving disabled people opportunities to enjoy the sea in specially designed, fully accessible powerboats.
The adventurous trips are staffed by specialists who ensure each person can share experiences, challenge their self-perceptions and extend their horizons. In its first year, the charity provided boat trips for over 700 disabled children and has since grown, now enabling more than 3,000 disabled people a year to get out on the water, including those with profound and complex disabilities. Beneficiaries are active participants, rather than simply passengers, with the opportunity to steer the vessel and learn seamanship alongside their friends and families. The experience is truly inclusive helping to improve aspirations and increase confidence.
‘Wetwheels’ operates in Portsmouth, Jersey, Hamble and Dover, and is due to open a new base in Whitby in August this year. Geoff was made an MBE in 2010 for services to disabled sailing after he became the first quadriplegic yachtsman to cross the Atlantic unassisted. He has also recently formed the ‘Accessible Oceans Foundation’ with HRH Princess Royal and HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco as patrons, which aims to make oceans accessible for to 100,000 disabled people a year from around the world for recreation, vocation and therapy.
In a personal letter to Geoff, Prime Minister Theresa May said:
“WetWheels is having a transformational effect on the lives of disabled people. By drawing on your own personal experiences, you have enabled people to challenge their self-perceptions and build their confidence. I am delighted that the opening of a new base in Whitby this summer will offer even more disabled people the opportunity to experience an adventure at sea.”
Suella Braverman, MP for Fareham, said:
“I visited Geoff at ‘WetWheels’ and was truly inspired by all he has achieved personally. He is making a massive difference to the lives of many others. There is no limit on what he can do and I am delighted that he is receiving this Point of Light in recognition of his charitable work for the disabled.”
Geoff Holt MBE said:
“I am extremely touched that I have been awarded a Points of Light award by the PM in recognition of my volunteering. To be honest, I don’t see what I do as volunteering, if anything, I feel embarrassed because I get so much in return from what I do, it never feels like a chore. When you see the difference that your time and effort can make to the benefit of others, it nourishes your soul and when you pull your quilt up at night in bed, you can smile to yourself and know you have made a difference to someone’s life. It’s very rewarding in that way.”
See more about WetWheels Foundation: