Norfolk Broads charity gets cash boost

Victoria LeggettA constantly-adapting charity which helps disabled people get out on the water and enjoy the beauty of the Norfolk Broads gained �3,500 this weekend - and a couple of much-needed new volunteers.Victoria Leggett

A constantly-adapting charity which helps disabled people get out on the water and enjoy the beauty of the Norfolk broads gained �3,500 this weekend - and a couple of much-needed new volunteers.

The Nancy Oldfield Trust supports disadvantaged adults and children by offering them the chance to go sailing, motor boating, canoeing, bird watching and fishing from its base at Neatishead.

This weekend, the organisation was handed a cheque by the Bishop Herbert Masonic Lodge, from Drayton, Norwich, marking the end of a year of fundraising by the group.

Ray Jackson, master of the lodge, said he had chosen the trust having seen first-hand the good work it does.


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He said: 'I used to help as a volunteer and I thought I would like to give something back. When you come back and see the smiles of their faces, you really feel as though you have helped.'

During Saturday's presentation, members of the Bishop Herbert Lodge were taken out to Barton Broad on the trust's motor and sailing boats to see the kind of experience the charity provides.

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Mr Jackson said: 'Some people that went were so impressed they put their names down as volunteers and we are looking at helping them in the future.'

The new helpers will be greatly appreciated. The trust has a staff of just five - two part-time and three full-time - and relies on about 40 volunteers.

Chairman Michael Ortmans said: 'Without them the show couldn't go on. They come in all shapes and sizes - some work on the boats, some help in the garden. There's always things to do.'

The trust, which was founded 25 years ago by Richard Kenyon and has to raise �160,000 each year to cover costs, is now coming to the end of a mammoth �120,000 fundraising drive to replace one of its motor boats.

Mr Ortmans said the next task was to find more than �15,000 to build a shed which they can use for carrying out maintenance on the boats in winter.

The Nancy Oldfield Trust is constantly adapting as the needs of their users change, recessions hit donations, fuel bills escalate and governments bring in new policies. 'Each time that happens, there's a new bill,' said Mr Ortmans.

The next challenge could be the move towards personalised care budgets being brought in across the country.

As people are given control over how they spend money from the county council, it becomes more difficult for care homes and centres to get large groups together for activities on the Broads.

The trust cannot mix smaller groups with different needs, putting a further strain on the charity.

But Mr Ortmans said it was always worth it. He said: 'One of the best bits is when people come along looking unhappy and come back with smiles on their faces, or they make a remark like 'I had a lovely time, I got nice and wet'.'

To find out more about the trust's work, visit www.nancyoldfield.org.uk or call 01692 630572.

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