Overwater Wheelyboat Services is a non-profit making, charitable organisation offering transport facilities using our Wheelybus to people with disabilities to give them access to local recreational venues, and canal trips using our Wheelyboat to those with mobility issues, especially if they are a wheelchair user.
The Overwater Wheelyboat Project was turned from a concept to reality by Rodney Cottrell BEM. He created the Audlem Lass Boat Service in 2011 which has carried over 4,000 passengers every year from Overwater Marina into Audlem village, with donations from passengers going to the RNLI.
After running this boat service for some time, it became apparent that there were often difficulties for people wishing to access this service due to physical difficulties of actually getting into and out of the boat, and the seating arrangements on board. A solution to this was sought, and after extensive research, it was established that The Wheelyboat Trust could provide a suitable boat and a separate enterprise, the Overwater Wheelyboat Project, was born.
In less than 12 months, Rodney and his small committee secured the required funding of over £22,000, which culminated with the official launch of the Wheelyboat was on the 27th June 2015 where it was named the Maughan Lass in memory of Richard Maughan, co-founder of Overwater Marina. This project is supported by the award winning Overwater Marina in Audlem, who have kindly donated a specially built dock and is the operational centre for the Overwater Wheelyboat. Situated in the beautiful Cheshire countryside and with a full range of disabled facilities and on-site café, the Marina is the perfect base.
After a few years of running the Wheelyboat service, it became obvious that there were often difficulties for people to access this service, either because of the cost or availability of suitable transport. This considerably reduced their opportunities for outside activities and social interaction. We therefore researched the options for providing a disabled access minibus.
With growing operations and volunteer support, we decided to apply to the Charity Commission for registration as a charity. Our application was accepted and we became a registered charity on 2nd July, 2018, which helped us finally secure funding for our specially adapted Overwater Wheelybus which began operations in March 2019.
This provides access to Overwater Marina for local people who would otherwise be unable to take advantage of the boat service, and extends our services to offer road trips to leisure facilities or medical services.
In June, 2020, Overwater Wheelyboat Services received the prestigious Queen's Award for Voluntary Service. This is the highest national award given to volunteer groups and recognises the contribution we are making to people's lives including the lives of our volunteers.
Very sadly, our founder chairman, Rodney Cottrell BEM, passed away on 19th October, 2020. This was a tremendous blow to his family, his friends and the many organisations he had developed and supported, within and beyond the local community. He has left a wonderful legacy and everyone at Overwater Wheelyboat Services is very honoured and proud to be part of that legacy.