PRESS RELEASE: Disabled anglers now able to fly fish for trout on Draycote Reservoir ~ The Wheelyboat Trust

The Wheelyboat Trust Logo

Release date: 7 April 2017

The first wheelchair accessible Coulam 16 Wheelyboat at Draycote Reservoir in Warwickshire will be launched on Wednesday 12 April, following a successful fundraising campaign supported by Draycote Fly-Fishers Association and led by one of its members.  An established trout fishery for many years, Draycote Reservoir is a 600-acre lowland reservoir near Rugby famous for its buzzer hatches and large grown-on brown and rainbow trout.

Designed and developed by The Wheelyboat Trust and JM Coulam Boatbuilders, the Coulam 16 Wheelyboat stems from the fundamental desire of disabled anglers and wheelchair users in particular, to have the same opportunities to fish as the able-bodied.  The boat is based on Jim Coulam’s 16’ reservoir fishing boat design and has been adapted to provide wheelchair users with step free access on board.  With an open cockpit and level floor throughout, the disabled angler can choose to sit at the bow or the stern and is able to drive and operate the boat quite independently.

The unique design features of the boat are not immediately obvious, making it a thoroughly enjoyable experience for disabled anglers.  Wheelchair users board the Coulam 16 Wheelyboat via a ramp from a pontoon onto a hydraulic platform that lowers to floor level.  Removable handrails around the platform help keep the angler secure and simplify the boarding and disembarking procedure, which means that only one able-bodied helper is required for assistance.  The boat has a 6’ beam, low centre of gravity and is very stable.  In normal conditions wheelchair brakes are sufficient to hold the angler in place, but D-rings on the floor provide secure strapping points when required.

The project cost £9,200 and was funded by the Janet Nash Charitable Settlement, Draycote Fly-Fishers Association and their members, and Fishery Management (UK) Ltd which has been running the fishery on Draycote since 2011.

Andy Beadsley, Director of The Wheelyboat Trust, says “Angling is an activity that most disabled people can participate in very successfully given the right access and equipment.  Our Wheelyboats overcome all the difficulties of accessing waters like Draycote and we are delighted that Ifor and his team have become the latest fishery to operate a Wheelyboat.  This is the 180th Wheelyboat to be launched and is a particularly proud moment for me being the 100th Wheelyboat launched since I took over as Director in 2002.”

The Wheelyboat Trust relies on the support of individuals, companies and charitable organisations to fund its activities. Donations can be made in a variety of ways including online



Media Contacts

Jane Bevan or Jana Fickerova, Firebird Public Relations

T: 01235 835297 / 07977 459 547

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About accessible angling

  • The need for accessible fishing boats has come about by the inaccessible nature of reservoirs, lakes, ponds and rivers to wheelchair users and others with mobility problems: the banks are often steep and unmade and where there is access, it may be limited and offer little opportunity to fish the water effectively.
  • Fluctuating water levels, the norm on most reservoirs, make the problems of access even worse.  Standard boats have not been designed to accommodate wheelchair users and are very difficult to get into.  Once on board the disabled angler is usually totally reliant on a boat partner.
  • Whichever Wheelyboat model is preferred (the Trust currently supplies four models – two purpose-built fishing boats and two multi-purpose models including a 12 seater inshore powerboat), Wheelyboats overcome all the difficulties. They make the entire water accessible, are simplicity itself to board and the level floor provides access throughout thus giving the disabled user the dignity of their own independence.  Wheelyboats enable disabled people to participate in waterborne activities alongside and on equal terms with their able-bodied counterparts.
  • Fishing has many charms and where suitable facilities are provided, such as at Draycote Reservoir, it is an activity that most disabled people can participate in very effectively.


About The Wheelyboat Trust

  • The Wheelyboat Trust is a registered charity dedicated to providing mobility impaired people, young and old, with the opportunity and freedom to participate in waterborne activities all over the UK.  Its role is to help and encourage venues open to the public to acquire Wheelyboats for their disabled visitors and to help groups and organisations acquire Wheelyboats for their own use.
  • The Wheelyboat Trust was founded in 1984 when it was originally called the Handicapped Anglers Trust.  The first Wheelyboat built received its official launch from HRH Prince Charles at Fishmongers’ Hall in London.  In 2004, the charity was renamed The Wheelyboat Trust to reflect its broader aims and the clear need for Wheelyboats beyond the fishing lake for disabled, elderly and infirm, families and community groups for recreation and sporting pursuits.
  • The Trust has designed 7 different Wheelyboat models since its work began in 1984: Mk I, Mk II, Mk III, Mk IV, Coulam 15, Coulam 16 and Coulam Wheelyboat V20.  180 Wheelyboats have so far been supplied across the UK, Ireland and Denmark.
  • For more information, visit

About Draycote Reservoir Trout Fishery

  • The fishery is within easy access of the M1, M6, M40 and M45
  • 32 boats all with outboards are available giving access to Draycote’s 600 acres and its famed shoals (underwater islands).
  • Anglers fishing from a drifting boat, fishing a team of dries or buzzers over and around the shoals, will experience the finest top of the water fly fishing any midlands reservoir has to offer.
  • Draycote is a popular competition venue with many clubs and associations enjoying its excellent fishing and facilities.
  • The team at Draycote feel passionate about their sport and are keen to encourage other anglers into fly fishing, or if required, to try and improve their knowledge. Visit the website’s Guiding/Tuition pagefor further details or call 01788 812018.
  • Fishery Management (UK) Ltd is owned by Ifor Jones and runs the fishing at Thornton, Foremark, Draycote and Eyebrook reservoirs.
  • For more information, visit


About J M Coulam Boatbuilders

  • Established for 24 years, they are one of the largest small boat builders in the UK having designed and built over 1,000 commercial boats.
  • Specialising in small day hire boats, they have expanded with help from The Wheelyboat Trust into larger commercial craft.
  • All boats are individually built in GRP to customer’s own specification.
  • Their own engineering and stainless steel fabrication shop allows them to custom make fittings and components and almost everything else.
  • They supply custom built trailers for all types of applications and are a leading floating pontoon manufacturer.

The Department of Ability

The Department of Ability Poster (Comic)

My name is Dan proud father to the incredible, strong, funny action seeking Emily who uses a wheelchair and has Spina Bifida.
When Emily was small she said “i don’t see wheelchairs on the telly..are they allowed?” GULP…WOW…what a statement!
It was then I decided if TV wasn’t going to do it..I would! that’s when the light bulb moment happened and i created…
The Department of Ability! superheroes using their disabilities as their superpowers! I used a mixed bag of characters,

Emily , the only human!, and her flying wheelchair and superior upper body strength Azzazatz the Alien, crash landed on Earth and retrofitted with a prosthetic bio-mechanical arm Pawsy the cheetah, rescued after an accident at London zoo and now reaches super speeds with his fusion powered Running blade Claypole, Ghost, brilliant scientist recalled blind from the afterlife and uses white canes….for justice…!

Comic Heroes of The Department of Ability
Comic Heroes of The Department of Ability

Billy, the dog, rescued from a hit and run, and gets around now with carbon wheels and a tail that acts as a radar and jet!
Each “born to be different..born to save the world”
If you go to my website, FB site or twitter, you can see and read ALL about them! and see the growing army of followers..more every day!

The D.O.A (for short) were designed to be as accessible as possible without losing sight of the aim behind their creation , as I noticed that the majority of Disabled characters across the medium of media were purely static or there to educate, and if this project was to encourage positive, diverse, inclusion then it HAD to be accessible…the kids I meet at Stoke Manderville sports, wheelchair basketball or charity events all tell me they have had enough of discussing their disability, they hate their stereotyped images, they want proper inclusion in the medium that they, like all kids consume! TV and comics! I am hoping the D.O.A can, if a 21st century tv exec can open his aged old eyes, get these kids the the inclusion that they deserve and get all kids of ALL abilities to join in, chat, meet and have a common interest they can share! not much too it?

The Department of Ability Comic front page
The Department of Ability Comic front page

I am writing and drawing the first D.O.A Comic at home, (It is being printed and published by the forward thinking STRONGBONES charity) I have given up paid employment to fulfil this dream, I am convinced, and so are all my wonderful followers online, that it can work! I am writing and drawing outlandish action packed global superhero adventures, whilst annoying anyone I can in the media to listen to me and 12MILLION other incredible people in this stunning community! its tiring and hard work, but it will take a lesser man to light a flame! I believe the time for change is coming, be it my characters or someone elses’ but things need to happen! the dark ages are over.

So far I have had fantastic online support from Disability Horizons/SCOPE/MENCAP/Hannah Cockcroft/Tanni Grey Thompson/Sky tv hosts/paralympians/celebs like Warwick Davies and The Last Leg. I have been shouting the project on : BBC Couch, Sky Sunrise, The Wright Stuff, ABC news, soooo many papers and magazines and radio stations! The want for the comic is coming in worldwide now, so i better sign off and get scribbling! If the word on the D.O.A can be spread to anyone, anywhere as far as possible, any likes, tweets..shares..shouts even! that would be awesome! TV is the next logical step whilst the in demand comic is in production! 12 million is not a minority there is nothing to loose, but EVERYTHING to gain!

The finished comic will be out next March/April, worldwide distribution, anyone can contact me! always need help! working on your own can be tiring! haha!

Please lets work together and open the bigger world to this amazing community of strong, independent people – thank you! you can find teasers/info/pics/even the theme tune by Calling Utopia at:


Lets make this happen…positive, strong, inclusion is a must.
Tv has…nothing to loose BUT everything to GAIN.

Thanks! with a plan