Monday, 25 June 2018

Brewer regales Rotarians with river boat anecdotes

DAVID BRUCE, joint owner of the Henley Brew House, was guest speaker at the Henley Rotary Club’s lunch meeting last

DAVID BRUCE, joint owner of the Henley Brew House, was guest speaker at the Henley Rotary Club’s lunch meeting last week.

Mr Bruce, who opened the micro-brewery cum restaurant and pub in November on the site of the old police station, explained how he started brewing beer 46 years ago at Simonds in Reading. He had had a varied career with pubs and brewing in this country — as well as other places around the world — before finishing up barely seven miles from where he had started.

Having a father disabled by polio and having had connections with the College for the Disabled at the then RAF Headley Court in Surrey, he and his wife ploughed back some of the proceeds of the sale of the Firkin pubs in London to set up a trust that would offer disabled, disadvantaged or elderly people the benefit of canal boat holidays on the Kennet and Avon Canal.

He described how it took a year’s negotiation with the Charity Commissioners, but eventually the first boat, a specially-designed purpose-built wide-beam canal boat offering high quality accommodation for 12 people, was launched in 1990.

This was a great success and an appeal was launched in January 1991 for a second boat to be built, whilst a third, a conversion of an existing wide-beamed boat, joined the fleet in September 1993.

With the fourth purpose-built vessel introduced in 1998, the fleet reached its present size, although the third converted boat was replaced in 2009 with a purpose-built, six-berth boat, ideal for a family group with a disabled member.

During the 20 years of the trust’s existence, it has enabled 15,000 disabled people to have a one-week holiday and a number of Rotary clubs have become involved, particularly the Rotary Club of Hungerford, in the part of Berkshire where Mr Bruce lives.

He also described the trust’s latest project, a wheel-chair accessible six-berth motorhome, again custom-built, which can be driven by anyone who has held a C1 licence for at least two years. A second vehicle can be delivered to a suitable nearby location by one of the trust’s volunteers, for use as a static caravan.

Club president Will Busher gave the vote of thanks.

Rotary in Henley was well represented at the annual conference for the 63 clubs in District 1090, held at the Bournemouth International Centre at the weekend.

Eight members of the Henley-on-Thames club, led by their president Will Busher, and seven from Henley Bridge, led by president Annie Lathaen, spent an informative and entertaining two days.

They were joined by two former Henley Rotarians, Colin Richards and David Cooke, as well as partners and guests of members of both clubs, making a total Henley party, all based at the Hermitage Hotel, of 29.

With the fourth purpose-built vessel introduced in 1998, the fleet reached its present size, although the third converted boat was replaced in 2009 with a purpose-built, six-berth boat, ideal for a family group with a disabled member.

During the 20 years of the trust’s existence, it has enabled 15,000 disabled people to have a one-week holiday and a number of Rotary clubs have become involved, particularly the Rotary Club of Hungerford, in the part of Berkshire where Mr Bruce lives.

He also described the trust’s latest project, a wheel-chair accessible six-berth motorhome, again custom-built, which can be driven by anyone who has held a C1 licence for at least two years. A second vehicle can be delivered to a suitable nearby location by one of the trust’s volunteers, for use as a static caravan.

Club president Will Busher gave the vote of thanks.

Rotary in Henley was well represented at the annual conference for the 63 clubs in District 1090, held at the Bournemouth International Centre at the weekend.

Eight members of the Henley-on-Thames club, led by their president Will Busher, and seven from Henley Bridge, led by president Annie Lathaen, spent an informative and entertaining two days.

They were joined by two former Henley Rotarians, Colin Richards and David Cooke, as well as partners and guests of members of both clubs, making a total Henley party, all based at the Hermitage Hotel, of 29.

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