Wiltshire Publications

Celebrations as Westbury sailing centre reopens months after arson attack


Westbury Sailing Club launch Dilton Juniors safety boat at the club’s open day

Westbury Sailing Club launch Dilton Juniors safety boat at the club’s open day

WESTBURY’s sailing centre has celebrated  being up and running with a special open day, after arson and burglary forced the club to close last April. This event included the unveiling of a new safety boat bought with money raised by pupils of Dilton Marsh Primary School.

Local children joined together for canoeing, kayaking, dinghy sailing and a barbecue at the West Wilts Youth Sailing Association on Saturday 6th September.

A safety boat was named ‘Dilton Juniors’ in honour of the school after year 6 pupils raised £500 by taking part in a sponsored walk/run/jog/skip or dance. The sailing club has been taking the year 6 children sailing for over 25 years, but this was unable to take place this year following the centre’s closure.

Headteacher Judith Finney said, “We thought it was awful that the sailing club had to close because of fire damage. As a school we wanted to do something as there is an emotional connection between us and the sailing club and we really felt for them.

“It is fantastic that year 6 was able to raise some money and we were surprised by the total amount.”

The second safety boat was named ‘Tom’ after Olympic sailing coach Tom Saunt who learnt to sail at WWYSA and credits the club for being the only reason he took up sailing. Tom donated £500 after hearing about the arson attack.

Children and young people who use the centre, which is run entirely by volunteers, were shocked and saddened by the devastation caused by the arson attack. However, there has since been a determined effort to raise funds and re-build the centre.

Senior instructor and principal  at WWYSA, Nick Cross said, “We lost 12 weeks of sailing because of the burglary and arson. We wouldn’t be where we are now without a lot of hard work that everyone has put in.”

Chris Mulholland added, “This event is a great excuse to get everyone back on the water. A lot of people have worked their socks off and without them, we wouldn’t be here with our nice new sails store.  We’d especially like to thank Chris Wheeler, Will Miller and Geoff Pell.”

Nick added, “We’d also like to thank local business Ross Hillman for their help with the sail store and Waitrose in Warminster who helped us raise £301 with the green token scheme.”

West Wilts Youth Sailing Association is a charitable trust whose primary aim is to introduce young people between the ages of 8 and 18 to the sport of sailing.

The association started in 1967 and is self financing and run completely by volunteers. They are a Royal Yachting Association-recognised teaching centre with a team of RYA qualified instructors.