The Trustees of the Mark Benevolent Fund have agreed a grant of £158,970 to The Kingfisher Medway Trust for an environmentally friendly river cruiser fitted with state-of-the-art features to cater for disabled and wheelchair bound passengers.

Based at Bow Bridge in Wateringbury, the charity’s current boat, Kingfisher, was purpose built specifically to provide comfortable and
safe river trips for adults and children who suffer from mental and physical disabilities along with their carers. A team of qualified skippers and trained crew members, all volunteers, operate the boat on its trips from her berth on the River Medway from May to September.

She was designed and constructed to meet all necessary safety requirements and is licensed to carry a maximum of twelve passengers. It is fitted with a lift to help wheelchair users and others to get on board easily and safely, taking them at a leisurely pace through some of the most beautiful countryside in Kent. Covering a wide range of ages, from as young as twelve to over ninety years old, and many disabilities, their clients come from all over Kent, Sussex and Surrey.

The new 32ft, bespoke built, electric boat is being commissioned from Colecraft Engineering in Warwickshire and will begin construction early next year. It is hoped that the new design will extend the usable season of the boat, meaning that the charity will be able to benefit even more passengers with disabilities each year.

Upon hearing the news Brian Ward, Provincial Grand Charity Steward, said: “Since 2007 the Kingfisher has covered over 20,000 miles, assisted over 130 groups, operated 2,500 trips involving 20,000 passengers of which more than 10% have been wheelchair bound, but is coming towards the end of its working life. This wonderfully generous donation by the MBF means that the Trust can continue its wonderful work here in the Province.”

Keith Sanham, Secretary of the Kingfisher Medway Trust commented, “We recently had a trustee board meeting and to say that the euphoria was unabated would be an understatement. We really do not know how to express our gratitude to you, but we will keep trying! €