28 Jan

"I have always depended on the kindness of strangers" - is a line from Tennessee William's "A Street Car Named Desire", spoken by lead character, Blanche DuBois, but today it's also the theme of the blog and almost a sub-motto of FVA.

As most of you know, we have 6 boats, several of which are in need of quite a bit of restoration. The one advertising this need for the most is our "Barney boat", NB Capricorn - so much so that she's affectionately known as "Crapricorn" but that's about to change.

Capricorn's a woodentop - but the wood has rotted, the roof needs replacing  - badly! Just before Christmas we were promised all the steel we needed to re-roof her, all 40 foot of her, but it was looking like we weren't going to be able to manage this. We might have the steel, but what we didn't have, was the money or volunteer-power to weld it.

All that has changed in the space of 24 hours, after a couple of posts on Facebook, appealing for help. We have gone from a seemingly hopeless situation, to a much brighter future. 

We tried everything to get help with the welding - I say we - it was almost entirely founder and co-chair, Andy Flint. Andy rang and wrote to collages, technical schools, prisons, the army, cadet branches and charities, including The Royal British Legion, with who we have an affiliation, but none of them could help. It was looking hopeless. It looked like we would either have to part with Capricorn or scrap her - and that we really didn't want to do.  Her hull is sound, and our Graham has been pottering along patching up her interior - she has the potential to be a good home for someone.

 Then you, our wonderful supporters, answered our cry for help. We asked if you could find us anyone who would do the welding for free, or a minimal amount of money. And boy, you did! We now have 5 welders offering to help - including one with  a workshop. A sign writer has volunteered to restore the names on a couple of boats, and there have been many more offers which will get Capricorn, and her sister ships, much closer to going out on loan  to veterans - and that's what it's all about.  People have donated to our Go Fund Me page, and we have 150 more followers on Facebook.  It's been an amazing weekend.

Soon the weather will improve and we can start organising working parties on Capricorn and Clover. We need to get Daisy back in the water, her bathroom refitted  and the electrics re-done - replacing her engine may be a step too far, but we'll see - we need her habitable, as an assessment boat for potential occupants of other boats, she doesn't need to run. So we will be calling on you again, to get her up from Worcestershire to Sawley, that's an appeal for another day.

For now, we're just so thankful for all of you who have rallied round to help with Capricorn - we really appreciate it, and can't believe  the depth of "The Kindness of Strangers".

Lizzie Lane


The Forces Veterans Afloat Charitable Trust

28th January 2024

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