The recent bad storms across the south west at the beginning of January, has once again cut of the village of Muchelney near Langport, which has resulted in Somerset County Councils Civil Contingencies Unit having to arrange humanitarian support. Upon contacting the Wheelyboat Trust they learnt that a wheelchair accessible Wheelyboat Mk 3 was available near to the Somerset Levels.
Supplied through the Wheelyboat Trust and Countryside Mobility South West and located on the Bridgwater and Taunton Canal, this craft is normally operated as a trip boat for wheelchair users by Chris and Val Whitcombe of Maunsel Lock Canal Centre. Arrangements were immediately made to relocated the boat with the support of Bridgwater & Taunton Canal Volunteers and Canal and River Trust, for use by Devon and Somerset Fire Brigade Rescue Unit.
Its larger capacity is now being used to operate alongside, and relieve, the volunteers of the Burnham on Sea Area Rescue Boat to run a shuttle service along the 2km of flooded road to the village, ensuring supplies can be delivered and people can travel into the nearest town of Langport, and not be completely cut off.
The wheelchair accessible Wheelyboat with its drop down ramp, its flat bottomed stability, and shallow draft, it is ideal for this purpose, and is being well appreciated, especially by those who would not normally be able to climb into a standard boat.
As well as supporting the Canal Volunteers, the Canal and River Trust has loaned a number of Life Jackets for this operation.