A special sea shanty sung by sailors and fishermen, a raffle and a 'white collar' surfing challenge are among the ways islanders are helping to raise £400,000 to build an 'inclusive surf centre' near Le Braye.
Healing Waves - a local charity dedicated to giving islanders of all abilities access to the ocean - submitted proposals for the centre to the Planning Department this week.
The charity hopes the premises will serve as “a much-needed home” and dry space to run sessions and deliver training from, as well as to help store the large quantities of specialist equipment it uses.
They also hope the centre will also be a safe space for the charity’s athletes and their families to meet, change and sign in to sessions, whilst giving all a sense of belonging and empowerment.
Healing Waves co-founders Max Wiltshire and Dominic Booth announced their plans for the centre earlier this year, saying it would provide a chance to showcase Jersey’s desire for inclusiveness and equality, by making Le Braye into “a centre of excellence with hopes of becoming globally renowned”.
They have now submitted the plans for the centre which, if approved, would be built just north of Le Braye slipway on a site that was previously allocated to the charity by Jersey Property Holdings.
Their application has already received the support of many local charities, including those supporting islanders with learning or physical disabilities such as Autism Jersey, Beresford Street Kitchen, Jersey Employment Trust, Jersey Mencap or New Horizons. Mind Jersey and Miguel Garcia, the Associate Medical Director for Mental Health and Social Care, also pledged their support along with Laneez Surf Centre and the Channel Islands Surfing Federation.
Visit Jersey also backed the proposals, saying they would not only respond to local legislation but also to consumer demand for “accessible tourism experiences” and ensure the island is both inclusive and welcoming to all.
Max is now hoping that islanders will share their comments on the plan.
“It’s kind of crunch time,” he said. “We are excited and apprehensive. It’s a big step but a vital one to make sure we are safeguarding ourselves. We want people to come and express their views and we hope the Planning Department will see the benefit that it will hold to the island.”
Pictured: Healing Waves enables individuals to access the ocean in a safe way to participate in water sport activities, despite any neurological or physical disabilities.
Due to the location of the centre, the charity has been very mindful of limiting its impact on its setting.
The centre, designed by Nicholas Socrates, of Socrates Architects, is on a small scale with elements aiming to match the character of the area. The roof will be covered with a layer of vegetation to add to the biodiversity of the area.
In addition to the centre, the plans include fully accessible toilets that will be open to the public, accessed externally, in the manner of regular public WCs.
The floor surface on the road between the centre and the Le Braye carpark will be relaid with a flat, permeable, resin-bound surface that will enhance accessibility for wheelchair-users.
“We are trying to create something with a very minimal footprint,” Max said.
It is estimated the development will cost up to £400,000 and the charity hopes the majority of it will be funded through a grant from the second tranche of the Government's Fiscal Stimulus Fund, although the charity is still waiting to hear the outcome of its application.
Earlier this year, Max Wiltshire and Seán Burke, the charity’s third co-founder, raised £14,000 by running four miles, every four hours, for 48 hours, a challenge inspired by former Navy Seal and ultra-runner, David Goggins.
The charity recently launched an Ocean Raffle, with 500 tickets and prizes ranging from return flights to Bristol from Blue Islands to longboards, surfing gear and vouchers from El Tico and The Surfyward.
The Le Rossignol White Collar surfing challenge will also be raising funds, alongside Aureole Choir's sea shanty efforts.
The local singers plan to video record a mash-up of ‘Drunken Sailor’ and recent Tik Tok phenomenon ‘The Wellerman’, involving members of the local sailing, surfing, fishing and other maritime communities, to raise money for both Healing Waves and Wet Wheels.
Since launching last year during lockdown, Aureole has raised over £5,000 for local charities, recording music videos and hosting live events for singers and musicians in Jersey and beyond. It now counts 180 friends and members, with a chore of 40 to 60 singers who engage with each recording project.
“We wanted to celebrate our fishing and maritime industry and it felt obvious to look to charities giving access to the ocean to vulnerable islanders and giving everyone the opportunity to do what everyone can do," Nicky Bowley, who leads Aureole with her husband John, said.
Several local sailors and members of the St. Helier Yacht Club have already added their voices to the choir’s hundreds and Aureole is also talking to local fishermen to get them singing.
“We want to get people from all maritime areas to get involved,” Nicky added.
The first rehearsal for the sea shanty project is taking place tonight over Zoom but people can still sign up.
It is hoped all the singers will have recorded their videos by mid-June and the final video should be produced soon after that.
“We are particularly delighted to welcome so many to this project for whom singing in a choir is clearly a new experience,” John, who is also JCG's Head of Music, said.
“And with men normally in such short supply on our choral scene, we are thrilled to have had a huge number of men signing up, widening the diversity of our membership significantly!’’
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