The RWB Boat Weekend 19th – 20th August

It’s been a long time since The Mary Archard wheelchair-accessible boat paid a visit to Royal Wootton Bassett. Actually it was back in September 2019, before Lockdown!

We were asked at our July branch meeting to be a stop on a Classic Car rally on Saturday 18th August. We started to plan what we could do, and before we knew it, we were also planning a boat weekend. Since then, our work-parties have been doing their best to control the floating weed and the reeds.

We had another battle on our hands just a fortnight before the 18th: a tree had blown down in the high winds, right across the canal and over the towpath. It took a whole work-party just to deal with the tree when we should have been removing more weeds. However, by Friday 17th, the boat was launched and completed a few test runs. Our volunteers had cut the grass and put up a marquee in record time.

Saturday dawned, and by then the hired loo hadn’t arrived. Happily, it was delivered soon afterwards. Would we have enough people to meet and greet the Classic Car drivers and navigators as well as run the boat trips? Yes we did – and before the classic cars arrived, we had completed two boat trips. Then the visiting teams decided they’d like a ride on the boat, and the area by the slipway buzzed with activity. By the end of the day, the boat had made 13 trips.

Sunday had its own challenge: The Lionesses were playing in the World Cup Final at the same time as our first boat trip. Even so, we still ran 10 trips, and the weather stayed dry.

By the end of the weekend we’d carried 89 adults, 34 children and 4 infants, making a grand total of 127 - plus an assortment of well-behaved dogs. Total Boat income was £574! We also ran a pop-up café, and donations (including tea and cakes) made another £235.28 after allowing for expenses. We made more than enough to pay for the loo hire many times over. We shall have raised over £700, a magnificent sum.

We are already planning three boat weekends for next year, starting on 1st-2nd June.

Steve Bacon, RWB Branch Chair.

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