The Beatrice Charity was first established in 1976 as the North Staffordshire Handicapped Children’s Boating Committee (NSHCBC), which took children with special educational needs on canal trips. In 2002, the charity was renamed to the Beatrice Charity, but its purpose is unchanged. It now serves 15 schools, from Cannock, Stafford and Eccleshall to Newcastle, the Potteries and the Moorlands, taking children with additional educational needs on canal boat trips along the Caldon Canal, on its specially design narrow boat, Beatrice.
The charity’s vision is to safely:
- Give children with special needs be they physical, emotional, educational or social – a pleasant, interesting and memorable outing in surroundings which are, for many, otherwise denied to them;
- Provide the opportunity for disabled children and adults to experience, enjoy and learn from the many delights of waterway cruising;
- Offer boat users the chance to participate in the process of narrow boat working – giving them an interesting and rewarding way of developing confidence and self-esteem.
The Beatrice helps children and adults alike to:
- Feel more connected with each other and those who care for them, and with society
- Enjoy and learn from boating activities
- Develop confidence – partly through helping to work the locks and, for those who have become house-bound and solitary, simply being in a social group
- Appreciate the beautiful countryside and abundance of wildlife that lives in and around the canal.
On the 4th October, the charity was awarded the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service but unfortunately, I was unable to attend the presentation. However, I was so impressed with the work of the charity, that I arranged to meet its volunteers and learn more about what they do.
On the 30th September I met with Derek Hilyer, Chairman of the Beatrice Charity, and Barry Colley, the boat’s skipper, at Cheddleton Flint Mill where Beatrice is moored. I had a guided tour of the boat and its many specialist features, which benefit so many children and adults in the region. Once it had set off for that day’s trip, with children from Kemball School, I spent time talking to Derek about the charity in more detail.
I would like to congratulate The Beatrice Charity, and all the volunteers that work so hard to make a real difference to the lives of the children and adults they meet, on this award. It is a fabulous charity that is indispensable to so many people.
You can find out more about The Beatrice Charity by visiting its website https://www.beatricecharity.org/charity.