Dinghy donation helps disabled

Ray Donovan, a close friend of Jim Sawyer''s launching the boat which is named after Jim.

A new sailing boat is making it more accessible for people with a disability to go sailing on Lillydale Lake.

The boat was donated to the Lilydale Community Sailing Club by Lilydale Rotary who was bestowed with the funds from previous Lilydale Shire President and Rotarian Jim Sawyer.

The enduring member of the Yarra Valley community passed away in April 2017, though his legacy lives on with the donation of this boat.

On 28 January the aptly named ‘Jim Sawyer’ was launched At Lillydale Lake and commodore Steve Beitzel from Lilydale Community Sailing Clun said the boat would help the group which caters to taking disabled people sailing deliver that service more often.

“The Jim Sawyer is a 303 Hansa dinghy specifically designed for people of all abilities to go sailing,” Commodore Beitzel said.

“From the more disabled, right through to the most experienced sailor, anyone can have fun in a boat like that.

“Up until this point we’ve only had one 303 in this club and we get quite a few heavier clients that come down to sail, so previously with those clients it’s been a case of lining up and waiting for a go with the only 303 boat we have.

“This boat is going to make a huge difference … There’ll be no more queuing for our clients.”

The Lilydale Sailing club runs programs from the beginning of September through to the end of May each year.

Ron Haines President of Lilydale Rotary and Yarra Ranges Councillor Len Cox reflected on Mr Sawyer’s contribution to the Yarra Ranges, and both said there were few other more deserving groups in the area to benefit from the funds.

“We were given $10,000 from Jim Sawyer’s estate and decided to use that to purchase a boat for the Lilydale sailing club,” Mr Haines said.

“They take approximately 500 disabled people from all around Melbourne sailing each year.”

“Over 25 years they’ve been taking disabled people sailing and it’s been an enormous commitment from that group, so for Jim’s money to go towards another boat for them, I know it will be very well used,” Councillor Cox said.

“I’d like to thank Jim’s memory for what he’s done and for this donation and to rotary and the sailing group.”

The sailing group also obtained two other 303 boats through its own funding.