Not many folk have heard of Rutland – my home county and England’s smallest. Nestled between Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire and Lincolnshire we are a gem in the middle of the big guys. Home to my favourite Rutland Water, too where Dippers and I often spend the day.
So, being that you mention to people you come from Rutland and many look at you blankly, it is always exciting when you meet someone else who does – especially when they are 14 year old Charly Sissons and you meet her at the London Boat Show. I was lucky enough to touch base with Charly at the weekend, when she was picking up her Raymarine Young Sailor of the Year Award for the East region. I already knew she was up for this award as I had read her story in the local papers. It was one of those stories that makes you smile a big smile and take your metaphorical hat off. For Charly is a competitive windsurfer and doing very well on the circuit. This is in spite of going blind very suddenly last summer – and her sight hasn’t yet returned.
Determined to pull on a GB vest one day, she is training hard and dropped into our conversation that she whips along at 30 miles an hour on her board! I sheepishly said that I row at a rather sedate average of about 3 miles an hour. Rutland Sailability is renowned for its excellent set up – a branch of the RYA Sailability charity which works to improve access for folk less able to get on the water conventionally. So there are all sorts of nifty devices and clever boats which work to make it easier for everyone to get involved. It’s a cause close to my heart – with Dad’s arthritis and my involvement with Geoff Holt’s project in 2007, I am a big fan of the work that they do.