Volunteers devastated after vandals damage Melton trip boat

The Wreake Voyager which has been damaged by vandalsThe Wreake Voyager which has been damaged by vandals
The Wreake Voyager which has been damaged by vandals
Vandals who damaged a renovated trip boat on the river in Melton have delivered ‘a kick in the teeth’ to the volunteers who have worked so hard on it.

The Wreake Voyager is a 30-foot narrowboat which had been prepared to carry up to 12 passengers this summer on trips up the River Eye, to Rhubarb Island and back, but the Melton and Oakham Waterways Society (MOWS) now has to work hard again to get it ready on time.

The volunteers have spent many hours refurbishing the inside of the boat but much of their handiwork has now been ruined.

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A group of youths were disturbed causing the damage on the boat by a man out walking his dog and police are now investigating the incident.

The Wreake Voyager, which was damaged by vandalsThe Wreake Voyager, which was damaged by vandals
The Wreake Voyager, which was damaged by vandals

MOWS chair, Sharon Brown, told the Melton Times: “The volunteers working on the boats are in their 70s and 80s and they’ve spent years on them to get something nice for the town.

“Things are moving ahead quicker than they ever have done so to see this happen is like a kick in the teeth for them.”

The vandalism has set back plans to launch the passenger boat, along with offering a fleet of rowing boats to the public, from late May or early June.

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“The team had cleaned up the upholstery and the floors on the Voyager, painted all the walls, dried it all out and then this happens,” said Sharon.

Melton and Oakham Waterways Society volunteers work on the landing stage ahead of boats being hired this summerMelton and Oakham Waterways Society volunteers work on the landing stage ahead of boats being hired this summer
Melton and Oakham Waterways Society volunteers work on the landing stage ahead of boats being hired this summer

“They’ve chucked the fire extinguisher somewhere and thrown the legs to the tables away so we can’t put the tables up, muddied all the seats again, smashed all the first aid kit up.

“We are a charity, we’ve got no money and now we’ve got to spend on the fencing to make sure they don’t get in again and we also need CCTV.

“It’s a question now of getting the volunteers back on track now – they just feel deflated.”

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The MOWS volunteers have been working over the winter months to clear the land ready for the boats to be launched from the Wilton Park base.

A path has been created down to the riverside steps and a boat landing stage installed along with the conversion of Melton Bowls Club’s former HQ into a ticket office.

The charity received £20,000 from the UK Shared Prosperity Fund, the government’s levelling-up funding, but that money has to be spent on dredging the river and building the dock and cannot be diverted to repairing the vandalised elements.

Sharon said she was keen not to blame all young people and that the offender were a tiny proportion of those who live in Melton.

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She added: “The kids can go on the row boats and we want them to get involved.

“You can’t judge all kids the same – it’s only that little group hell bent on destroying things in the town.

“The biggest thing they’ve destroyed is the heart of the men who are doing all the hard work.”

MOWS would welcome any donations from local businesses to help them get the narrowboat ready again and new volunteers are also invited to help out.

Contact them via the Melton and Oakham Waterways Society Facebook page.