Andy Cassell established the Andrew Cassell Foundation when he returned from the Atlanta Paralympics in 1996, having won a Gold Medal for sailing. He had spent a lifetime competing in able-bodied fleets before leading the first GB Paralympic sailing team and he was determined to give something back to a sport that he loved
The first Trustees, Richard Bonham Christie, Nick Bonham and John Ferree, had led and co-ordinated Andy’s campaign to raise funds to compete in Atlanta. To-gether with Andy they determined that Foundation funds should be used to pro-vide boats, equipment and financial help to sailors with disabilities who wished to race and train. Special mention should also be made of Chris Pegna and Wendy Owens, Cowes Corinthian Yacht Club (CCYC) members who did a fantastic job in assisting the Foundation in the early years.
Over the years, the Foundation has purchased Sonars, the former Paralympic three person boat, and these boats have been borrowed by a variety of sailors. These include the British B2 Blind Team when training for the World Blind Championships, groups of young people from Sussex Sailability and many individuals with disability. Often the discovery that it is still possible to sail competitively can make an enormous difference to someone struggling with a newly acquired disability,
The Foundation has also supported the development of fittings and equipment on boats that can enable a disabled sailor to compete on equal terms. It also assisted the Cowes Corinthian YC, which was a Centre for Paralympic sail training and the Cowes Sailability Club Group, to improve on-shore facilities with the purchase of a hoist and support the CCYC with its successful application to Sport England to improve the hard facilities in 2013. Currently, the Foundation continues to work with all these other organisations and many more to further opportunities for disabled sailors and, in particular, to encourage greater integration with able-bodied racing.
One of the most satisfying aspects of the Foundation’s work has been the fact that many of the sailors who began racing with the Foundation have gone on to become very competent, competing on equal terms with able bodied sailors with-in top racing fleets.