MORE than 600 people flocked to an open day on the Lizard Peninsula to see Helford River Children Sailing Trust’s new state-of-the-art watersports centre on Sunday.

Visitors took to the water at the 26-acre flooded quarry at Trevassack Lake, near Garras, by a variety of means including swimming, kayaks, paddleboards and sailing dinghies.

The trust's CEO Simon Osborne said: “We were overwhelmed by the support from local people on the day. We wanted visitors to experience the range of water-based activities we hope to offer, and to see for themselves our vision of how Trevassack Lake can become a valued community facility for people from across the county and beyond."

Plans were also unveiled for the HRCST’s National Centre of Excellence for Watersports for All, opening in spring 2021 – an innovative centre that will be completely accessible, even for children with the most severe disabilities.

“The charity has been dedicated to helping children gain confidence, competence and resilience through activities on the Helford River for more than 20 years,” added Simon.

“The river operation will continue, but this more sheltered site will provide a busy, year-round schedule of watersports for all. Easier shore access and a range of specialist craft and equipment will make it particularly suitable for those with special needs and disabilities.”

Sarah Payne, of Helston, whose teenage son Ross learned to sail with the Trust through his primary school, said: “We really enjoyed our afternoon at the lake – it was a brilliant showcase of the tremendous work the HRCST already does in our local area.

“We can’t wait to see the development of the new centre and hope to be involved in some way when it opens.”

Another parent added: “My son has Down’s syndrome, so having one-to-one tuition and extra help in the water is a fantastic idea. Cornwall has few facilities of this kind for children with special needs.”

The first phase of development will comprise a learning centre and two specially adapted, high-quality lodges to provide family accommodation for children with disabilities.

A unique floating classroom will also be based at the lake.

Pioneered by Jonathan Thornton, lead trustee for the Trevassack project, and generously supported by the Mark Benevolent Fund, this nine-metre craft can carry groups of up to 15 people, including three wheelchair users.

HRCST co-chair Charles Richardson said: “It was an amazing day and I would like to thank everyone who came along and helped make it such a success. Last year, the Trust helped more than 800 local children and young people enjoy sailing and kayaking.

"The new Trevassack Lake centre will add another string to our bow, extending our season and enabling us to offer even more people the freedom and wellbeing boost that taking to the water can provide.

“Building at the site is due to commence this autumn, thanks to a recent funding boost of £1,900,000 awarded by the Coastal Communities Fund and the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development.

“But we are still only halfway to the target required for completion of the project, so we will be increasing our fund-raising efforts to ensure that our dream becomes a reality.”

Helford Hog Roasts catered on the day, generously donating all income raised to the trust.