Suffolk sailor still braving waves at 90 donates Paralympic standard racing boat to East Anglian Sailing Trust

Alan Hazlewood with his daughter Sally Oakley. Picture; SARAH LUCY BROWN

Alan Hazlewood with his daughter Sally Oakley. Picture; SARAH LUCY BROWN - Credit: Archant

A hardy sailor still braving the waves at 90 is breathing new life into a Suffolk charity he credits with saving his own.

Alan Hazlewood with his daughter Sally Oakley. Picture; SARAH LUCY BROWN

Alan Hazlewood with his daughter Sally Oakley. Picture; SARAH LUCY BROWN - Credit: Archant

When Alan Hazlewood’s wife Doreen died in 2014, he not only struggled with grief but felt unable to continue sailing – his lifelong passion.

Not knowing where to turn, he joined the East Anglian Sailing Trust (EAST) – set up to help people with disabilities get out on the water.

Thanks to specially installed hoists and winches, the 90-year-old was out sailing again within a matter of weeks.

Now even more members will get that chance – after Alan donated a Paralympic standard racing boat to the trust.

A pot of inherited cash helped Alan buy the Sonar, a type of keelboat specially designed for disabled sailing.

He named her Dorsal after his late wife, and daughter Sally Oakley, at a special ceremony at Levington Marina yesterday.

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“They (EAST) saved my life after my wife died,” said Alan.

“I had to give up sailing so I thought well, as I came into a bit of money, it’d be nice to do a little bit of good and buy them a new boat.

Alan Hazlewood with his daughter Sally Oakley. Picture; SARAH LUCY BROWN

Alan Hazlewood with his daughter Sally Oakley. Picture; SARAH LUCY BROWN - Credit: Archant

“They always wanted another sonar and this is a boat that was used for one of the classes in the Paralympic sailing.

“It’s a very good type of boat for the purpose we use it for and I’m very pleased that everybody’s turned up today and gave it the good send off and a good launching.”

Alan fell in love with sailing when he was a young boy, watching the boats at Ramsgate in Kent before developing an even stronger passion on the Norfolk Broads. He is a former commodore and trustee at the Haven Ports Yacht Club in Levington.

His daughter Sally said that yesterday was a great moment, which allowed her father to give back to a charity that has given him so much.

Alan Hazlewood with his daughter Sally Oakley. Picture; SARAH LUCY BROWN

Alan Hazlewood with his daughter Sally Oakley. Picture; SARAH LUCY BROWN - Credit: Archant

She added: “After we lost mum he needed to have something to do and obviously sailing has been his life so the EAST has just been superb for him.

“The EAST have been brilliant, as he is 90 he struggles to get around but they have a winch and special hoist to help people in and out of the boats. “He absolutely loves being back on the water.”

Geoff Dreher, from the trust, said everyone at the charity is incredibly grateful for the donation.

Alan Hazlewood with his daughter Sally Oakley. Picture; SARAH LUCY BROWN

Alan Hazlewood with his daughter Sally Oakley. Picture; SARAH LUCY BROWN - Credit: Archant

The East Anglian Sailing Trust provides youngsters and adults with disabilities with regular opportu

The East Anglian Sailing Trust provides youngsters and adults with disabilities with regular opportunities to access and enjoy sailing activities. Pictured here, children learn on the water at Suffolk Yacht Harbour. Picture: SIMON BALLARD - Credit: Archant