Disabled youngsters get a virtual taste of life at sea

Video report by ITV News Meridian's Cary Johnston

Celebrated disabled yachtsman Geoff Holt has come up with a pioneering way for disabled youngsters to experience sailing, without actually getting out on the water.

Using special virtual reality headsets, he's giving students at Trelour College in Alton, Hampshire, a chance to see and almost feel what it's like.

Sailing via Virtual Reality

Geoff Holt has pioneered the charity Wetwheels, which enables wheelchair users to come on-board fully accessible powerboats.

But with the lockdown and continuing concerns over coronavirus, many disabled people have been stuck indoors for much of the year.

Geoff made it his mission to find a solution.

He said: "The last months have been tough on everybody. People with disabilities are disproportionately affected by these challenges and fears and we've noticed a big impact of mental health on people with disabilities.

"Doing something healthy, something normal again, is really important."

Students have been experiencing sailing through Virtual Reality Credit: ITV News Meridian

And popping on these headsets has been part of that process of encouraging those who may have retreated into themselves, to get back out again.

Student Poppy Garton said: "To be somewhere I can feel really able and in control, that felt really nice to me.

Meanwhile student Sophie Anderson said: "For someone with weak muscle tone, it was actually surprisingly easy to hold up on my head, which I wasn't expecting."

The Chief Executive of the Trelour Trust, Simon Birch says it's been a great relief for the students to feel they have had an adventure, especially after the challenges of lockdown.