McAlpines have donated 2 Bell-boats to the District Ranger Service and these were used for the fist time on Friday by pupils from Samuel Pepys Special School in St Neots. McAlpines' regional manager and Councillor Andrew Hansard came along for the press launch, so look out for news in the local papers, especially those produced by the Cambridge Evening News group. Harry from the Sailing Club acted as safety officer.
The boats can comfortably accommodate 12 people each and come on a trailer, complete with life-jackets and paddles. Their use will mainly be educational, exploring rivers and ponds for geography or environmental studies topics, or conducting surveys of aquatic life, but they will also be used for practical work along the shore where access is difficult from the bank. Clearing litter or fallen branches is an example. They may also come in handy for swan rescue.
The rangers hope that schools, colleges and less formal groups will book the boats for topics such as river studies or more imaginative roles such as "Treasure-hunting", "Pirates" or "Explorers".
The boats will be available for bookings through the rangers after Easter. Rangers will complete a training course to enable them to supervise the boats. Book early, otherwise Samuel Pepys will have all the slots for themselves! The boats can be used at Hinchingbrooke or at St Ives as well as at Paxton.