The naming ceremony for our new wheelchair accessible boat, the Peter Gardiner, went very well, despite the rain. This 7 metre pontoon boat, designed and built by CML at Marchwood, Southampton, was launched in September 2021. The naming ceremony took place in February 2022, on the first anniversary of the death of its namesake, Peter Gardiner. Peter was the son of Chris and Phyllis Gardiner, the founders of the Centre, and in many ways was the inspiration for the QE2 Activity Centre.
Born with Downs Syndrome, Peter loved horseriding, sailing and canoeing (as well as Liverpool FC and Dad’s Army). His parents wanted to bring the opportunity to take part in outdoor activities to other children and adults with additional needs and the Queen’s Silver Jubilee in 1977/78 presented the chance to make that a reality. Eastleigh Borough Council invited local people to suggest an initiative that Eastleigh could carry out to commemorate the Jubilee and Chris proposed an activity centre for disabled people. The idea was adopted and we’re still here, 44 years later.
This is the third pontoon boat we have had; but the first to be built to our instructions, ensuring easy access, a clear deck and an accessible console. The funding came from a variety of sources, each of them equally important.
We had grants from four grant making trusts, the Bernard Sunley Foundation, Bruce Wake, Micklem Trust and the Worshipful Order of Shipwrights.
Hamble Valley Rotary Club raised a quarter of the cost following a sponsored walk of the South Downs Way.
We had bequests and donations in memory of four people very important to the development of the Centre: Peter Gardiner; Godfrey Olson, who was Chair of the Centre for over thirty years; Caroline Oates, who was a volunteer at QE2 in 1978 and was our secretary from 1987 to 2017; and Helga Baker, who ran the Friday Club for many years.
The final source of income was our family of day service attendees, who, during lockdown, completed a virtual sponsored walk, from QE2 to Timbuktu.
The name was revealed by two of Peter’s sisters, Kate and Sally, who spoke about how important activities were to the Gardiner family and how much it meant that Peter would be remembered in this way.