GRAND IDEA: Fam­i­lies get on board to ex­plore canal

Harefield Gazette - - FRONT PAGE -

HILLING­DON Nar­row­boats As­so­ci­a­tion (HNA) has just the thing for fam­i­lies and school groups look­ing for some­thing out of the or­di­nary. The Hare­field-based char­ity, whose home is a boathouse on the Grand Union Canal next to Cop­per­mill Lock, wants to build on its suc­cess­ful week­end ac­tiv­i­ties with some mid-week trips, start­ing in March.

It spe­cialises in canal ex­pe­ri­ences for youth groups and par­ties of chil­dren with spe­cial needs. Its nar­row­boat Spirit is adapted for wheel­chair use and has been ren­o­vated to bet­ter ac­com­mo­date pas­sen­gers with ad­di­tional needs.

HNA chair­man Lo­raine Grainger said: “Our week­end ac­tiv­i­ties have been a huge suc­cess, and Satur­days and Sun­days are al­ways busy with the likes of scout groups and youth groups us­ing our boats to get out on to the canal.

“What we want to do now is make full use of our fleet – Mer­lin, Pisces, Spirit, Star and Theo – dur­ing the week.

“We think ex­plor­ing the lower Grand Union Canal, es­pe­cially when it is qui­eter, away from the week­end, is a won­der­ful ex­pe­ri­ence for any­one, and be­cause of the setup of our boats we think this would be par­tic­u­larly ap­peal­ing to, say, fam­i­lies with a spe­cial needs mem­ber, or groups of wheel­chair users or groups of older pri­mary school chil­dren – from about Year 6 and up – for a cou­ple of nights away and a won­der­ful, unique ad­ven­ture.”

She added: “Of course if peo­ple sim­ply want to sit and watch the world go by nice and slowly, and en­joy the wildlife and scenery of the canal, that works for us too!”

HNA vol­un­teers teach skills such as boat han­dling and com­mu­nity boat­ing lead­er­ship un­der the aus­pices of the Na­tional Com­mu­nity Boat­ing As­so­ci­a­tion, and have led trips for ev­ery­one from blind or autis­tic young­sters to par­ties of el­derly peo­ple, young of­fend­ers, youth groups and col­league groups from lo­cal busi­nesses.

HNA can cater for groups of up to 12 and can be flex­i­ble with ar­range­ments, de­pend­ing on the num­ber of ad­di­tional needs, pas­sen­gers and wheel­chairs, helpers and teach­ers.

All trips will be skip­pered by an ex­pe­ri­enced boat han­dler, al­though boats can be char­tered as ‘self­s­teered’ ei­ther on pro­duc­tion of a suit­able qual­i­fi­ca­tion or af­ter com­ple­tion of the HNA boat han­dling cer­tifi­cate.

See www.hna.org.uk or visit the HNA Face­book page for de­tails, and fol­low them on Twit­ter @HNABoats

We think ex­plor­ing the lower Grand Union Canal is a won­der­ful ex­pe­ri­ence

for any­one’

Groups in­clud­ing dis­abled or autis­tic young­sters, el­derly peo­ple, youth groups and busi­nesses have all en­joyed trips with Hilling­don Nar­row­boat As­so­ci­a­tion

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