After a wet start to proceedings in the morning, we were fearful the rain may overshadow our annual Loch side cookup, but the weather gods were smiling!!

As with all clouds, this one had a silver lining. The downpours on the day and those proceeding it had helped to replenish Castle Semple Loch enough to facilitate the use of the sailing boats which were sadly missed at last year’s event.

This was the 7th edition of the annual event supported by Digby Brown and we were delighted to be joined by Max Wheelchairs, Adaptive Riders Collective, Royal Yachting Association, Glasgow Wheelchair Rugby Club and surprise guests, players from the St Mirren Women’s Team.

As the sun came out and folks started to arrive the mood lifted and everyone got down to uncovering bikes, brushing off the tables and chairs and getting things in motion for the day to come.


The primary purpose of the day is as an escape for the patients at the Queen Elizabeth National Spinal Injury Unit, many of whom will have left the hospital for the first time since their accidents. Having interaction with our members is vital as a sign post to what is achievable post leaving the unit.

There was plenty on offer to keep people entertained on the day, from hand cycling, adaptive kayaking and sailing to a turn around the loch in a wheelchair accessible speed boat. Though getting folk away from the fantastic BBQ food often proved to be a struggle!

“I met some amazing and inspirational people who have the same or similar injuries to myself who have showed me that we can all still have great fun regardless our injuries,

I found myself taking on things that I thought would be boring or just not my cup of tea and now I want to have another go of everything I tried, It was great fun been out in the water sailing and canoeing, I also gave hand cycling a go and it’s not as easy as it looks but certainly fun.” - Steven L4, L5 Incomplete. - Member

Castle Semple is such an incredible venue to host the day, with an Accessible Visitor Centre Café, a Changing Places Toilet, a range of hoists that gives wheelchair users access to boats and bikes and of course, David Hill’s brilliant staff. The experienced Outdoor Activity Instructors were on hand to discuss requirements and tailor make activity sessions to the individual needs, making our members feel relaxed as they learn skills both on and off the water. It was these specialist facilities and equipment that led Castle Semple to became Scotland’s first Royal Yachting Association Sailablility ‘Centre of Excellence’ in 2012.

The day was incredible and went without a hitch. It was so rewarding talking to members and patients about their adventures on the water and seeing people’s confidence grow as they participated in the activities.

We would like to thank Digby Brown for the fantastic BBQ as well as their continued support with volunteer staff over the years. Thank you to Bullen for sponsoring the drinks on the day and Hollister for sending helping hands, but mostly to all the patients and members that turned up and made it such a special event this year.

“I went on the power boat which took us on a leisurely tour around the perimeter of the loch.  Being a seasoned sailor before my SCI, I was keen to try the sailing which was absolutely fantastic, the instructor took me out then left me to it (albeit watching carefully out of the corner of his eye ). It was a great feeling enjoying something you were passionate about before my injury and without this day it would have been very unlikely I would have had the chance to do this.

Everyone there has issues to deal with, no magic wands were issued but its so nice to relax around others with similar issues and enjoy the tailored activities and company. Its so easy to feel isolated so this was a great opportunity to get together and enjoy day of activities with others.” - Malcom L3, L4 Incomplete – Member

If you are interested in one on one coaching on any of the equipment at Castle Semple, please get in touch with us directly as we have an Awards For All program from the National Lottery that can facilitate this.