Walk Colchester proudly launched the BOMA chair at High Woods Park on Saturday afternoon. This is a powerful go-kart style form of transport that allows disabled or older walkers to participate in many of the events organised by Walk Colchester. The launch event marked the end of almost a year of campaigning by Walk Colchester to raise the £11,000 that was needed to buy the community facility.
Walk Colchester founder Rowena Macaulay commented:
“This has been a project that has been in the making for a over year now. We first trialed an earlier version of the BOMA at High Woods last June. It was very exciting – we didn’t really know where we going with the project at the time.
We began to think that this would be a fantastic community resource. We all fell in love with the chair. We had pretty much committed to wanting to bring one here for use by Colchester people.”
It was perfect timing that the local group then became aware of the NatWest Community Fund – a project that invited bids for community resources, if it could be demonstrated that there was a genuine need for any facilities within the bidding location.
“We have to thank the people of Colchester for voting for us via the NatWest Community Fund. We were really lucky. I thought it was the type of project where people would rally round, and they certainly did. It’s a national programme and we were lucky to be one of the three award winners for this region.”
Further funding came from the local charity Colchester Catalyst, who very kindly completed the finance to enable a BOMA to be bought by Walk Colchester.
“In spring, we then applied to the Colchester Catalyst – a fantastic local charity – and they have been hugely generous in their support. They pretty much doubled the money that we were awarded by NatWest, and that put us in a position where we were able to go ahead and buy the BOMA.”
This was a genuine process of co-operation and collaboration by many within the Colchester community. The launch event at High Woods on Saturday reflected this, with Colchester Borough Council Leader Anne Turrell in attendance, as well as support from Colchester Catalyst, Walk Colchester and of course many of the potential BOMA users who were keen to try out their navigation skills in the new community equipment.
The immediate future for the BOMA over the summer months is to go on tour around the local parks and events within Colchester. Awareness needs to be raised about the availability of the BOMA for all who can benefit from using the transport.
It is hoped that a permanent storage location will soon be in place at High Woods. Insurance and security issues are currently being resolved. Walk Colchester would then like to set up a Colchester BOMA Club to manage the scheme.
And so much like the navigating skills on Saturday, there are a few minor, minor details to resolve, but the community now has a BOMA chair in which to share and use. Walk Colchester has come so far with the project – the final pieces should fall into place over the coming months.
As for the significance of having a community BOMA in Colchester?
“What’s particularly important about the BOMA is that it allows to go out there and roam, and explore and go on adventures again. You can travel across bigger distances and take risks. It allows you to cover any kind of terrain. It’s fantastic on sand, which is a non-starter in a conventional chair. Personally I’ve not been on a beach for seventeen years. It’s the beginning of a big adventure.”
Which could be the best sign off for the Colchester BOMA project.