Rivertime Accessible Boating Charity 01628 780700

About Us

Background to the Accessible Boating Thames
Rivertime Accessible Boating operating as Accessible Boating Thames has developed from an existing charity – the Rivertime Boat Trust that provides cruises for disabled and disadvantaged people on the River thames.

Five years ago, the trustees decided that there was a need to provide disabled people with access to other boats on the River Thames so that they could take an active part in boating.

Two bell boats and a wheelyboat were purchased (together with a safety boat) to move this forward and an arrangement was brokered with Bisham Abbey Sailing & Navigation School (BASNS) to provide moorings for the boats along with expertise in boat handling for disabled people. BASNS is an RYA ‘Sailability Centre’ and is recognised as a training centre by the Royal Yachting Association.

This informal partnership developed quickly and since 2014 ten one day sessions each year have been held. These sessions are attended by children from SEND schools (two sessions each day) and children with various physical and learning disabilities have enjoyed time in the bell boats (with their carers) on the river. The bell boats are catamarans which are very stable and can carry up to 10 children and carers in each boat together with a qualified helmsman.

The partnership also provides opportunities for disabled people, of any age, who are qualified powerboat helms to use our wheelyboat, with or without a trained volunteer crew member. The wheelyboat allows easy access for a person in a wheelchair and also allows that person to take the helm whilst remaining in the wheelchair. A variety of sailing dinghies are also available and a winch allows disabled people to be transported from chair to sail boat to enable them to experience freedom of movement in the water.

In June 2017 HRH Princess Anne opened the first ‘Rivertime Accessible Regatta’ attended by 300 children from a variety of Special Educational Needs Schools. They enjoyed bell boating, wheelyboat trips, and a variety of other sporting opportunities that were ‘bought in’. The second Regatta was held in June 2018 with even more children participating and on this occasion Sarah Newton MP. The Minister of State for Disabled People, Work and Pensions officially opened the event.

For both the 10 days of bell boating and the Regattas the Rivertime Boat Trust has made payments to BASNS to cover the opportunity cost (of not selling training) and for the expertise that their instructors provide ensuring safety at all times.

The Future

Accessible Boating Thames has been created to develop Accessible Boating and Regattas both in the Thames Valley and to provide a model for development and replication on a national basis.

Its purpose is to provide a variety of accessible boating opportunities for people of varying abilities on open water and opportunities for people of varying abilities to engage together in water related activities. We believe that the freedom of movement provided on the water has a therapeutic effect and that the demand is high, both locally and nationally.

Our Aims

To enable people of various abilities to enjoy weekly meetings, or specific sessions, facilitated by fully trained and certified personnel in accordance with the governance and licencing of the Royal Yachting Association and in accordance with the mission vision and values of
Accessible Boating Thames including:

Bell Boats

The provision of 3 bell boats for disabled young people from SEND Schools and other disability charities to enjoy specific paddling sessions and similar uses

A Winch

A winch to allow access from a wheelchair for the seriously immobile

Safety Boats

The provision of safety boats to support our operations


The provision of a wheelyboat for people in wheelchairs and for the specific purpose of training and use by disabled people and their families


The provision of volunteer helpers for the various requirements (safety boat and sailing instruction etc.) to enable clients, sometimes with a carer or a family member, to use the crafts according to their needs

Sailing Dinghies

The provision of sailing dinghies for disabled people to enjoy the experience of sailing

Qualified Staff

The provision of qualified trainers and other volunteers to ensure maximum safety, as determined by individual risk assessments


Experience of running two accessible regattas, both attended by over 300 school children (SEND Schools).

Anticipated Outcomes

An opportunity for disabled people to enjoy boating experiences with others on a regular basis

We anticipate that every year 350 young people with disabilities will enjoy group bell boating (1,400 over the last 4 years)

  • A growing number of individuals enjoy weekly meetings
  • Wheelchair users enjoy independent helming of a wheelyboat and personal freedom on the river.

Note: Any disabled person who has qualified to helm a power boat will be able to use our wheelyboat subject to availability. Similarly, disabled people who have qualified to sail dinghies will be able to use the dinghies by arrangement (this usually requires volunteer manning of a safety boat). We will continue to encourage people to come to Bisham Abbey Sailing and Navigation School (BASNS)  on Sundays during the season when volunteers are on hand to help them. We intend to make a small charge to schools for the bellboat days and we will request a small donation from anyone using the wheelyboat or sail boats. At this stage we do not intend to charge for attending future regattas and will seek to obtain sponsors for these larger events.

What is the Vision of Accessible Boating Thames?

To inspire disabled and disadvantaged adults, children and young people to develop a long term involvement with the river and accessible water sports by encouraging other like-minded people to develop the Accessible Boating concept along the length of the River Thames and across the UK.

What is the Mission of Accessible Boating Thames?

We will develop relationships with like-minded people to develop the Accessible Boating concept along the length of the River Thames and across the UK to enable disabled children and young people to develop a long term involvement with the river and enjoy accessible water sports.

The Values of Accessible Boating Thames

We I N S P I R E


We inspire disabled and disadvantaged adults, children and young people to develop a long term involvement with the river and accessible water sports


We nurture disabled children and young people to become successful adults who will impact positively on their local community


We provide a safe, supportive, vibrant and stimulating environment 


We encourage a passion for the river and accessible water sports 



We are an innovative charity committed to developing the Accessible Boating  concept across the UK


We are a highly inclusive charity, respect all cultures and beliefs and have a strong sense of community 


We believe in the principle that all people are equal and deserve equal rights and opportunities 

The Trustees

Rivertime Accessible Boating currently has 5 Trustees and hopes to attract more with a range of relevant skill sets. The Trustees are:

Greg Wilkinson
Chair of Trustees & Member of the Finance Committee

Greg was a Senior Police Officer who now undertakes a variety of voluntary work including being the Operations Director and Trustee with Rivertime Boat Trust. He is Chair of the Trustees for Berkshire Vision (Berkshire County Blind Society) and actively involved with Rotary International.

Chris Barrett
Trustee & Member of the Finance Committee

Chris is a marketing professional and was Chair of  Trustees of Berkshire Community from 2012 to 2017. He now undertakes a variety of voluntary roles including being Managing Trustee of The Rivertime Boat Trust, Chair of Trustees at Prior’s Court Foundation and a trustee of Thames Valley Adventure Playground.

In January 2018 Chris was appointed a Deputy Lieutenant of The Royal County of Berkshire.

Chris Humphries

Chris is an engineer who has always had an interest in water sports and access for people with disabilities. He is involved with SportsAble, a local disability sports club where he runs swimming sessions. Her has extensive experience sailing the Lord Nelson, a a square rigged ship constructed to suit physically disabled people, joining a voyage crew of 40 of which 50% would have a disability and up to 8 would use wheelchairs. He is a volunteer with RAB having completed the RYA Powerboat level 2 qualification and is now completing RYA Sailing level 2 with the aim of becoming a qualified assistant sailing instructor for the club.

Simon Davis

Simon is an entrepreneur who had his own Boating Company which he sold in 2006. He then co-founded (with his wife Pat) the Rivertime Boat Trust in 2007, raising £165,000 to enable the specially adapted cruiser to be built. Simon is currently Chair of the Trustees and Director with Rivertime Boat Trust and a trustee for Regatta for the Disabled..

Paul Aston
Trustee, Treasurer and Member of the Finance Committee 

Paul is in full time employment, an ACCA qualified finance professional, focused on profit improvement, cash generation and asset protection.

Consultant to the Trustees

Peter May
Consultant to the Trustees and Director of Bisham Abbey Sailing & Navigation School Ltd 

Peter is the Director of Bisham Abbey Sailing & Navigation School Ltd, the longest standing a RYA Commercial Training Centre on the Upper reaches of the Thames and was established in 1991. BASNS became a RYA Sailability Centre in 1998 providing services to Charities like MENCAP. Peter is a School Governor, Church Treasurer and Committee member British Marine (London and Thames Valley region). Peter is qualified as a RYA Powerboat instructor; RYA Disability Awareness instructor; RYA Dinghy Instructor; RYA Inland Waterways Instructor, and BSS Private and Commercial Boat Safety Inspector.