Disabled Afloat Riverboats Trust and Bruce Trust to work together – Towpath Talk, August 2014

Each month we hope to feature one of our Projects and the first one is DART

The only community boat charity that offers residential holidays to individuals with disabilities, Gloucestershire Disabled Afloat Riverboats Trust (DART), is to work more closely with the Bruce Trust based at Great Bedwyn on the Kennet and Avon Canal.

The Bruce Trust Fleet

For many years now DART has hired boats from the Bruce Trust but  with a succession crisis looming the trustees have now appointed David and Rebecca Bruce to join them. Steps have already been taken to transfer DART operations to Great Bedwyn and this will continue over the coming months.

Joy stick steering in action

DART was started in 1990 and built a boat that operated successfully on the Rivers Severn and Avon in Gloucestershire until 2004. At that time the boat was found to need major work which was beyond the reach of a small charity so the focus was changed to using boats hired from other operators and creating a means of access to boating for individuals who needed a holiday with a ‘family’ feel to it.  The need for this quickly became apparent as their provision expanded by 600% between 2004 and 2010. DART’s holidays are affordable while providing full board and the opportunity to be as active as the holiday maker would like. Activities on offer include helping with operating the boat and locks, shopping and visiting places of interest. They also encourage passengers to help with planning the details of each trip. For example: the balance between boating and other activities.

Young carers on a DART trip

Because the aim is accessibility for individuals DART make provision for those with or without carers. A risk assessment system allows passengers, carers and care home staff to assess the suitability of potential passengers for one of their holidays. This is done carefully and ensures that everyone on the trip benefits as much as possible.  DART uses trained volunteers to crew and cater on the trips. This includes Full DBS checks. Each trip is run by an experienced trip manager whose job is to ensure that everyone on board benefits as much as possible from the experience and solve any problems that may arise.

With the new management arrangements in place DART is looking forward to continuing to provide accessible holidays for individuals into the future.

An evening meal at Crofton

Meet the NCBA Trustee Board

Each edition we will feature a short biography of one of the NCBA Trustees in order to give both the NCBA members and the public information of who is representing them.  The first person to undergo this process is Bob Radcliffe one of the longest and most experience members of the NCBA.  Bob also carries out the post of NBA Adminstrator.

Bob Ratcliffe

NCBA Senior Trainer & Moderator

Bob has been an Instructor of Outdoor Education for over 25 years with 15 years on narrowboats. In addition to his NCBA qualifications he is also a Boatmaster licence holder with the MCA.

Situated in the Midlands region he runs two narrowboats for use in community boating and also MCA regulation activities. He is actively involved in the social arm of his activities which his commercial operation helps to subsidise in order to allow diversity and inclusion to boating in all of its forms.

Because of the diverse nature of his operations he has a wealth of experience in all areas of boating and the people who wish to access it, which includes clients from Youth offending, family day outs, group trips, Educational courses to A level standard, Skippered holidays in addition to Training of crew, Boat management and the new Trainers Certificate for the NCBA.

He is a Midland regional moderator for the NCBA and is always available for advice and assistance to NCBA projects.


 All NCBA courses  must be delivered or overseen by a qualified NCBA Trainer.  The following courses leading to the award of the NCBA Trainers Certificate have been arranged:

5th – 7th September 2014

Venue:             ABA, Basingstoke

10th – 12th October 2014

Venue:             SCAD/Serious Fun, Skipton

17th – 19th October 2014

Venue:             SCAD/Serious Fun, Skipton

31st October – 2nd November 2014

Venue              The Wharf, Midlands

Further details and application forms can be obtained from Derek Stansfield.  Contact details Email: derek@derekstansfield.com or Tel: 074501912561.  Application forms must be submitted via an Accredited Training Centre.

About the Author:

Derek Stansfield
Chair of National Training Committee, Advisor & Senior Trainer (North East)