SAILORS with disabilities at New Forest and District Sailability (NFDS) will be celebrating the new season with an addition to their fleet of dinghies – thanks to a £6,400 grant from the Forest Journal’s parent company.

The grant from the Gannett Foundation will fund a new Access 303 dinghy, which will join the fleet of 13 that sail on the charity’s Blashford Lake base near Ringwood in April 2013.

Chairman Eric Blyth said: “We are extremely grateful to the Gannett Foundation for the grant, and delighted that they gave us the full amount needed for a new Access dinghy.

“We have been able to fund replacement Access 303s for each of the last three years thanks to donations.

“We did not expect to raise the money to fund a boat this year, but thanks to this grant we can.

“Having a fleet of modern and well kept dinghies is vital.

“More sailors are able to get on to the water in boats that are specially designed to help them sail.”

The craft will join the club’s fleet of Access 303 dinghies, which are dubbed the workhorses of the lakes, as they are used three full days a week during the season.

The club has 150 sailors and more than 60 volunteers.

NFDS committee member and volunteer Malcolm Bentley said: “For many people at the club, sailing is the only time they can get out of their wheelchairs.

“Sailing gives them a lot of satisfaction and independence.”

The Gannett Foundation is the charitable arm of the company that owns Newsquest Media Group, whose titles include the Forest and Salisbury Journals and the Avon Advertiser.

The season starts in April and finishes at the end of October, during which time the group meets and sails every Tuesday and Friday.

Anyone, regardless of their level of disability, can be part of sailing at the club.

The new boat is planned to be launched in April and will bear the Gannett Foundation Logo.

If anyone would like to volunteer, Mr Blyth can be contacted on 07747 787289 or on 02380 867438.