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DISABLED SAILING’ THAILAND. ‘Sailing with a Difference’

Light of Siam (LOS) No. 9791 E.C. CHARITY PROJECT

‘DISABLED SAILING’ THAILAND

Phuket, Thailand

On 29th of July 2019, on the Island of Phuket, Thailand was a very proud moment for the Brethren of the Light of Siam Lodge when the aptly named “Spirit of Freemasonry” a Sailing Dinghy specifically designed for the disabled was launched.

There to witness this auspicious and historical occasion was a large contingent of Brethren from the District Grand Lodge of the Eastern Archipelago (DGLEA) headed by W Bro Dr. Yeoh Sin Hock ADGM, and W Bro Jimmy Tham ADGM and V W Bro Yusha Haten Degani (PDDistGM),accompanied by several Grand Officers and District Grand Officers. Also present were the good Ladies Mrs. Mi Mi Degani and Mrs. Jenny Yeoh.

The Light of Siam Lodge goal was to provide disabled persons with the means to sail at sea on their own without relying on others.

This small and humble dinghy could enrich their quality of life, mobility and achieve cherished independence. This specially designed dinghy “Spirit of Freemasonry” now provides the disabled opportunities to develop their sailing skills that were unheard of before. With these new found skills they just might one day represent Thailand in international and eventually the Asian Para-Games and Para-Olympics.

The Brethren of Light of Siam Lodge believe that through Sailing each disabled person has the Power, Freedom and Strength to achieve their cherished independence. We therefore launched this “The SV/14 Project” with the motto: “Empowering Persons with Disabilities One Sail at a Time”

How it all began

It all started way back on the 25th October 2015, when Bro. Peter Jacops of Erasmus Lodge No: 297 Bangkok, a Specialist CE Inspector for certification of Yachts, (CE stands for “Conformité Européenne” in French) posted a small note on Facebook asking if any designer would be willing to help us create a low cost sailing dinghy specifically for Disabled people while making it affordable to all.

Alex Simonis & Morten Voogd of SimonisVoogd Design took up the Challenge

One of the biggest problems is that there are only a small number boats available, which are nearly all at a price level that puts them out of reach of many potential sailors, As the market is small for boats for the disabled, their price is inflated and there were hardly any available.

Design Concepts:

So the idea was born to design a modern looking, easy to handle and overall stable and safe Sailing Dinghy. With 30 years of design experience the design team now focused on a small keelboat within the reach of disabled sailors, with a specific hull shape designed not only to enable speed but, more importantly maximum stability, to cater to the limited mobility of the crew.

With ten (10) proto types underway around the world of the original version of the SV/14 was manufactured in plywood, reducing the overall cost.

Disabled Sailing gets a Boost with SV/14 and Fareast Yachts Collaboration Shanghai, China

With an agreement with Fareast Yachts, We were able to purchase a boat Ex-Factory. The Light of Siam Lodge being located on an island with many of their Brethren and their families experienced Yacht persons who know the joy and freedom of sailing. So too many of the LOS Lodge Brethren are associated with the Phuket Youth Foundation for several years and knew that many of the children that we have assisted in the past have achieved significant results, through them both in and around Phuket and internationally. Through them we were introduced to the organization that facilitates sailing activities for children with physical challenges and disabilities. Working together with The Royal Phuket Marina and the Phuket Disabled School the “The Phuket Chapter of Disabled Sailing Thailand” was created.

The Light of Siam Brethren then took up the quest of raising the funds required to purchase the first of the five boats required to setup the Chapter. Working through the DGLEA District Board of Benevolence generously donated 100,000 Thai baht with a further 20,000 Thai baht donated by Victoria Lodge No: 1026 (HK).

The Brethren of the Light of Siam raised the remainder 80,000 baht towards this most worthy project. We give all of those who contributed a very big thank you for their kind donations and assistance.

We would like to acknowledge all those DGLEA Brethren who took the time and expense to witness the launching of the “Spirit of Freemasonry”:

W Bro Hew Gill, DGOrator

W Bro Lakshmanan Nachiappan, DGDYDC

W Bro Michael Toh Ah Lau, DGPurs

W Bro Francis Yeoh, PAGDC

W Bro Steven Chong Kuet Yoon, PDGChStwd

W Bro NiranRajaratnam, DGSwrdBr

We give special mention to Mrs. Mi Mi Degani and Mrs. Jenny Yeoh who presided over the bottle of Champagne at the Inaugural Launch of the “Spirit of Freemasonry” Dinghy for the disabled.

The Historical Launch

No doubt that it is a very proud moment for the Light of Siam Brethren to their dream turn into reality and to be able to provide those persons with disabilities to improve their quality of life by affording the with the opportunity to develop a skill for sailing and perhaps later for them to represent Thailand in international and eventually the Asian Para-Games and Para Olympics.

Our W Bro Ralph Waldman, Past Master of the Lodge of Siam and current Secretary says;

Disabled Sailing Thailand will be the first sailing club for persons with disabilities in Thailand. Sailing is not only therapeutic, but it also empowers persons with disabilities and gives them the freedom and mobility that is often lacking in their lives. Persons with disabilities face a lot of challenges in their daily life. Simple tasks that ordinary people perform on a daily basis, for example, shower, dressing up, brushing their teeth, or even a meal are extremely delicate and difficult to those suffering from disabilities. Sailing on the open sea will give them the activity to help them engage Mentally, Socially and Physically. We the Brethren of the Light of Siam will no doubt follow the progress of the “Spirit of Freemasonry” with great enthusiasm.